Amendments to the 2012 constitution drafted by the 10-member legal experts’ committee fail to preserve disability rights, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
In a statement released by the EIPR’s Social and Economic Justice Unit on Tuesday, the civil society organisation said that the amendments do not adhere to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Egypt has ratified.
The statement specifically referred to amendments to Articles 60 and 61, which both address rights of disabled persons. It said the articles reflect discrimination against the disabled and suggests that disabled persons are not equal to able-bodied persons.
The amended Article 60 states that: the state preserves the rights of disabled children and is tasked with rehabilitating them and fitting them into society.
The article is identical to Article 70 in the 2012 constitution.
The amended article 61 states that: “it is the state’s responsibility to care for the youth and the disabled persons, and to spiritually, behaviourally, culturally, scientifically, physically, psychologically, medically, socially and economically rehabilitate them, provide them with jobs, create a suitable environment for their development and allow them to effectively take part in political life. The state is also tasked with creating programs which could upgrade the disabled persons’ culture.”
EIPR criticised article 61 for using the term “care for disabled,” saying that the expression is “negative and discriminatory.” The organisation held that the article should have clearly stated that it is the state’s responsibility to preserve the disabled persons’ rights.
EIPR also criticised the amendments for failing to ban discrimination against disabled persons. It added that the amendments went as far as to fuel discrimination.
“The society in Egypt tends to look down on disabled persons and discriminate against them,” the statement read, adding that the legislators should have therefore taken such negative realities into consideration while drafting the constitutional amendments.
Despite the presence of an article banning discrimination in the amended constitution, the statement read, the article fails to ban discrimination against the disabled.
EIPR listed a set of recommendations for articles preserving the rights of the disabled, which should be included in the constitution. The recommendations clearly stated that the rights of the disabled persons are preserved and that they are equal to able-bodied persons. The organisation also recommended that the constitution clearly bans the exercise of any form of discrimination against disabled persons. It also called for establishing an independent national council for disabled persons to discuss any relevant policies or bills before they are passed.
Article 72 of the 2012 constitution was specifically dedicated to disabled persons. It stated that the state is tasked with caring for their health and education, economic, cultural and social positions and providing them with jobs and suitable facilities.
The legal experts’ committee merged this article with Article 71, which discussed youth rights, and the product was Article 61.
Currently, the 50-member Constituent Assembly is working on further amendments to the 2012 constitution, taking into consideration amendments proposed by the legal experts’ committee.