FILE - President Sisi honors a disabled person, July, 30, 2018 – Courtesy of the presidency
CAIRO – 15 January 2019: Egyptian Parliament gave a final approval on a draft law submitted by the government to establish the National Council for People with Disabilities.
According to the draft law, the Disabilities Council is an independent body that aims to promote, develop and protect the rights of persons with disabilities and their constitutional dignity.
The council shall enjoy technical, financial and administrative independence in performing its activities, functions and competences.
Concerning administration, the council shall consist of a president, a vice-president and 17 members with disabilities in addition to public figures with experience.
The formation decree shall be issued by Egypt's president based on the decision of the majority of members of the Parliament within three months from the date of promulgation of the law.
The council's president, his deputy and other members are required to be Egyptians, who enjoy civil and political rights. They are also required to have already performed military service, or have been legally exempted.
All members shall be enjoying clear criminal records.
The council proposes the general policy of the state in the field of development, rehabilitation, integration and empowerment of persons with disabilities.
It should also coordinate with all ministries and concerned authorities in the state to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The council has to represent persons with disabilities, and it should be registered in the membership of forums, conferences and international organizations concerned with disability issues.
It is also in charge of receiving complaints about persons with disabilities and of adopting the policies, strategies, programs and projects necessary for community and health awareness to avoid disability.
The council shall hold a meeting at least every two months.
The council shall have an independent budget that includes its revenues and activities. The council's fiscal year shall begin and end in conjunction with the start and end of the state's fiscal year.
The disabilities independent body will be exempted from judicial fees for proceedings before the courts of all types and degrees.
The council shall prepare an annual report on the situation of the rights of persons with disabilities, and submit this report to the Egyptian president, the Parliament, and the Cabinet.
The president of the council, his deputy, members and employees shall be subject to Law No. 62 of 1975 in respect of illicit gains.
In December, Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi allocated LE 80 million ($4.46 million) of the Tahya Misr Fund in support of people with special needs.
The president made the announcement while attending a celebration marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. "People with special needs in Egypt represent 9-10 percent of the total population", Sisi said.
In July 2018, President Sisi announced establishing a technical center for services for disabled persons, to be the first of its kind in Africa. The center will enable people with hearing or speech related disability to use technology to communicate through mobile phones.
During the inauguration of the seventh International Conference on Information Technology Convergence and Services for People with Disabilities (ICT4PwDs), Sisi also announced establishing an initiative that aims to enable disabled people to get services and information introduced by online websites of governmental institutions.
Eight Articles of the 2014 constitution directly and indirectly address the rights of individuals living with all forms of special needs in Egypt. Moreover, Law No. 10 of 2018, which was issued by Egyptian President Sisi and approved by the Egyptian Parliament, also furthered the rights of individuals with special needs.
Law No. 10 cemented the government’s commitment towards people living with disabilities, stipulating that they should not be discriminated against as a result of their condition, that they should have dull human rights, like any other individual who is not living with a disability, and that they have the right to make their own decisions and express themselves in whichever way they see fit. It also mentioned that those who are living with special needs have the right to education, work and public facilities/services, like everyone else.
Most importantly, Law No. 10 of 2018 pointed out that there is a need to ensure access to all public facilities and services, including the fitting of ramps, among other things.
Moreover, Article 10 of the Rehabilitation Act No. 39 of 1975, amended by Law No. 49 of 1981, states, “Five percent of the total number of employees in each unit of the state administration body, public bodies and public sector shall be allocated for disabled recipients of rehabilitation certificates, and these units fulfill the percentage referred to using the disabled residents living within their circles and registered in the related manpower offices."
Children are especially looked after in Egypt, with Article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, stating, “The state shall ensure the rights of children with disabilities, their rehabilitation and their integration in the society."
Egyptian President Sisi directed to dedicate 2018 to people with special needs as they represent a potential power in the Egyptian society that needs care and support.
Thus, governmental and regional organizations seek to hold various partnerships with different civil society organizations to improve the conditions of people with special needs.
Additional reporting by Lolwa Reda