Amend Disability Welfare Act
Speakers at a roundtable yesterday called for amendment to the Disability Welfare Act 2001 in order to ensure the rights of physically challenged people.
"It is a useless act. The framework of the law is too weak to help establish the rights of persons with disabilities," said Dr Akbar Ali Khan, chairman of the Regulatory Reforms Commission (RRC).
He also called for allocation of at least for two percent of the development budget for persons with special needs to ensure their development.
Action on Disability and Development (ADD) organised the roundtable titled 'Rights of people with disabilities: Need for legal reforms and effective institutions' at the Spectra Convention Centre in the city.
Speaking as the chief guest, Dr Akbar also called for providing incentives for the private sector with a view to encouraging it to create employment opportunities for the persons with disabilities, as the government alone cannot solve the unemployment problem.
"A social movement must be launched to change the mindset of people to help establish the rights of the people with disability and marginal community," he added.
Addressing the first session of the roundtable, Monsur Ahmed Chowdhury of the National Forum of Organisations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD), underscored the need to change the mindset of policymakers in order to formulate an effective act for the physically challenged people.
He also called on the government to ratify the optional protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Presenting a keynote paper, Prof Dr Abdullah Al Faruque, chairman, law faculty, University of Chittagong, said the Disability Welfare Act 2001 does not specify the diverse needs and rights of the people with disabilities.
Rights-based approach should be reflected in the legal framework concerning the physically challenged people, he added.
Saidur Rahman, rights coordinator of ADD, and Advocate ZI Khan Panna also spoke at the first session chaired by Advocate Dr Naim Ahmed of Supreme Court.
Mosharraf Hossain, country director of ADD, presented another keynote paper at the second session highlighting the ways to make institutions working for physically challenged people more effective.
He called for better coordination between the government and NGOs to strengthen its current practices and demand more from each other to improve the quality of programme interventions.
"The crispy relation between the government and NGOs and other developing agencies can ensure medical services, education, employment, transportation and access to information for persons with disabilities," he added.
Speaking as the chief guest, Social Welfare Secretary MA Hye Howlader mentioned that the government has taken an initiative to bring necessary amendments to the existing act.
Chaired by Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre, the second session was also addressed by Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, and Rina Roy, rights director of Manusher Jonno Foundation.