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Rights of the Disabled Focus of Campaign in Kurdistan

December 20, 2011

A Kurdish disability advocate is interviewed at the November 19 legislative drafting session.The disabled in Iraq, as in other countries, have historically been underserved and underrepresented and too often subjected to institutional neglect.  To address these issues and ensure the rights of the disabled, the Future Center for Youth Issues (FCYI), with support from IRI, launched a campaign in November to protect the rights of Kurdistan’s disabled population.

The campaign is already making a difference.  Due to the work of FCYI, the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament is considering a new law to protect the rights of disabled citizens and on November 19 the center organized a meeting with members of the parliament and disability advocates to examine the draft legislation.  On December 13 FCYI formally submitted recommendations revisions to the draft legislation to the leadership of the Society, Children and Family Committee, including:

  • Updating the previous definition of disabilities and changing insensitive phrasing;
  • Supporting teachers working with disabled students;
  • Establishing specialized schools to meet the unique needs of disabled students;
  • Expanding the work of the Disabilities Monitoring Committee to ensure it provides job opportunities for the disabled and is easily accessible to disabled citizens;
  • Ensuring safe living and working environments for disabled citizens through monitoring and investigation;
  • Installing traffic signals and other infrastructure improvements designed to aid disabled citizens; and
  • Supporting the Special Olympics in Kurdistan.
FCYI has also worked with the media to raise public awareness of disability issues and the proposed legislation.  On December 2, one day before International Day of Persons with Disabilities, television stations featured talk shows discussing the plight of disabled citizens.  Of particular note was KNN, which hosted a special report on the proposed Disability Law.  Kurdsat, Payam TV and Speda TV have also covered the issue and the legislation interviewing members of parliament and advocates on their views.

Impressed by the center’s work, the parliamentary committee invited FCYI to attend future legislative session on the Disabilities Law.

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