KSA was first country to safeguard rights of people with special needs

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, chats with a person with special needs on Sunday. (SPA)

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, chats with a person with special needs on Sunday. (SPA)

Experts participating in the 4th International Conference on Disability & Rehabilitation (ICDR-2014) confirmed that Saudi Arabia was the first country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Special Needs following the UN Convention.

They said that Saudi Arabia respects the dignity and independence of the disabled and was therefore the first to uphold their rights in society.

The three-day event was inaugurated Sunday by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, during which he also handed out prizes to the first winners of the disability research award under his name.

In his paper, Bander Al Abian, president of the Human Rights Commission, said that the world is witnessing a qualitative change in vision regarding the disabled, from negligence, marginalization and compassionate philanthropy to comprehensive development of human rights.

“This change states that disability results from the interaction of the disabled person with his environment hindering him from accessing his basic rights and full participation in public life on an equal footing with others,” he said, adding that the issues relevant to disability should prioritize development plans accordingly.

The first session was attended by 7,000 registered participants and a number of experts in the field who presented papers on international laws and legislation on disability.

In his paper Talaat Alwazna said Saudi Arabia was the first to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol in 2008. “It continuously develops relevant disability regulations. It has also established a special unit for the disabled for raising the awareness on the convention,” Alwazna added.

He noted that the Kingdom promotes international cooperation in disability legislation, having organized many international forums on disability applications including training and support for the disabled.

Among the distinguished speakers was Liisa Kauppinen whose paper was entitled “the Quality of Life through the Inclusive Implementation of Human Rights.”

Vladimir Cuk talked about the rights of persons with disability in the UN system, while Mohsen El Hazmi discussed the rights of PWD (People with Disability) in the light of the International Convention, the Optional Protocol, and local and regional legislation.

According to El Hazmi, the preambles of many international agreements confirm that disability comes as a result of the disabled interacting with the surrounding environment which is reluctant to accept them as normal people. This impedes their effective participation and access to equal treatment. He also acknowledged that discrimination of the disabled infringes their right to human dignity.

Within the context of international cooperation, El Hazmi noted that the Convention changes attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new level the movement from viewing PWD as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection toward viewing them as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making independent decisions based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The speakers praised Prince Sultan bin Salman,chairman of Prince Salman Center for Disability Research, for his support for the disabled and the organization’s efforts to design scientific programs for mitigating disability, finding its causes and solutions, early intervention, planning, evaluation, rehabilitation and scientific research.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Affairs announced that the government will cover the fees of rehabilitating and training people with severe and moderate disability at the authorized centers, adding that it will not cover the cost of treatment because it is available to all citizens.


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