An NGO has expressed disappointment over the lack of enforcement of laws to ensure that people with disabilities get the same opportunities to work and live in society as able-bodied people.
During a workshop in Phnom Penh last week, Ngin Saorath, executive director of the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation, said despite a large number of legal provisions aimed to benefit people with disabilities, results are still negligible.
“In Cambodia, there are a lot of international and national legal mechanisms to protect the disabled,” he noted. “One of them is an international treaty which is signed by 187 countries and ratified by 148, including Cambodia.”
“The treaty is aimed to ensure the protection of disabled people’s rights in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.
Mr Saorath noted that disabled people face a number of barriers in getting into the workforce, including job announcements which focus on the able-bodied.
“Even though the government has set a quota for private and public institutions to hire disabled workers, the end result is poor or even non-existent,” he said. “Most job announcements require applicants to be physically fit and this discourages disabled people from looking for work.”
Mr Saorath said that his organisation has taken some initiatives to promote the rights of disabled people, but only the government can implement these on a national scale.
“We have worked on increasing the number of disabled people who exercise their right to vote in elections and participate in the political process by voicing their concerns,” he added.
Mr Saorath noted that his organisation has also helped disabled people to access health and water supply facilities, including providing disabled-friendly toilets.
Khol Yuthly, deputy chief of the policy analysis and development division at the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development, said that the government has been doing its best to improve the lives of the disabled.
“The government has paid very close attention to the needs of disabled people in policy decisions,” he noted. “At the national level, the government enacted laws to protect the disabled and has created awareness about problems they face.”
“We also have a number of sub-decrees requiring the private and public sectors to recruit the disabled. For example, companies with up to 50 employees have to make sure that one percent are disabled people while companies employing more than 100 staff must have two percent.”
However, Mr Yuthly acknowledged that there are still some flaws in the implementation of government policies to help the disabled.
According to the Social Affairs Ministry, 2,576 people with disabilities worked in ministries and state institutions in 2016, representing 1.72 percent of the workforce. A further 2,124 disabled people worked in 19 private institutions.