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17 Jun 2010

Disability Rights in Cambodia

The Cambodian Government has confirmed that it will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities after intervention from VSO’s Parliamentarian Volunteer Sharon Hodgson and pressure from development agencies.

Designed to abolish discrimination, the convention will encourage legislation and action plans protecting the rights of disabled people, many of whom have lost limbs after stepping upon un-cleared landmines.

A direct response to international pressure from VSO and other development charities, the policy shift paves the way for equal rights for disabled people and should open up education, health care and employment opportunities.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, volunteered during her summer recess in Cambodia in 2009 as part of VSO’s Parliamentarian Volunteering Scheme. She worked with the Disability Action Council using her political experience to support the campaign, persuading previously reluctant Ministers to adopt the treaty.    She said:
“This is very good news and gives me hope for the future prosperity of disabled people living in Cambodia.  It is a huge milestone.“

Currently there are around 550,000 disabled people living in Cambodia, many of whom do not have adequate access to education, health care and employment and are often excluded from society.  Three decades of war has left a legacy of un-cleared landmines across Cambodia ensuring it has one of the worst landmine problems in the world.

The Convention currently has 145 signatories and was launched in December 2006.

Original story on VSO Website.

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