The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2020 | Here’s why it is revolutionary for Pakistan
ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2020 was recently passed by the national assembly.
Pakistan has recently passed the revolutionary ‘ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2020’. It was first presented before the Standing Committee on Human Rights on April 24, 2019. The bill was tabled by the Minister of Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari. However, the original draft needed certain amendments because it was not inclusive.
After making the final changes, the bill has been passed. The following are significant aspects.
Part 1: Preliminary
This bill is called The Islamabad Capital Territory Rights of Persons with Disability Act. It shall be extending to across Islamabad. It must come into force at once.
- “Access” means meaningful and useful access to various physical and intangible means made suitable to fulfill the unique needs of persons with disabilities;
- “Barriers” means physical, social, psychological, communication, information, legal or attitudinal hurdles in the way to access to infrastructure and services meant for the general public
- “Constitution” means the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
- “Council” means the Council on Rights of Persons with Disabilities constituted under this Act;
- “Court” means the Special Disability Court established under section 32;
- “Disability” means a long term physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities and shall include physical, mental, intellectual and developmental disorders or sensory impairments which in interaction with participating fully and effectively in day to day performance and interaction with others on an equal basis;
- “Discrimination based on disability” means an)’ distinction, exclusion or restriction based on disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social denial of reasonable accommodation
- “Equality before the law” includes principles of quality on the equitable basis that persons with disability shall have in line with the Constitution and international covenants in which Pakistan is a party;
- “Freedom of movement” shall have the same meaning as expressed in Article 1.5 of the Constitution
- “Fund” means the fund established under section 28;
- “Independent living” means the environment to live with freedom, self-control, and self-determination in everyday life; 0) “misconduct” shall have the same meaning as defined in the Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1973.
- “Mobility” means the possible independence for persons with disabilities with access to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms o1′ assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost
- “Reasonable accommodation” means necessary and appropriate modification where needed in a particular case to ensure that the persons with disabilities: enjoy or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms at home, workplace, and in social life.
Part 2: Rights of Disabled Persons
Equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities.
- The movement shall ensure that every person with disability shall have a right to be rejected for his dignity and lead a decent life with equal opportunity to participate in ed rational. Social, economic, cultural, and all other activities in society, without any discrimination.
- No person or institution, whether public or private, shall discriminate against persons with disabilities or violate their rights or restrict benefits in any mourner.
- The government shall take all necessary legal and administrative steps including; – appropriate: changes in the existing laws, to ensure that every person with disabilities enjoy a life: inclusive of the right of equality guaranteed under the Constitution and that such person’; disability shall not be used by any person or institution to restrain or restrict him from enjoyinl3 his rights unless the, is a reasonable cause that not restricting such person may cause or letting hirn perform something may be out of his physical or mental capacity.
- Because of restricted access of the persons with disabilities to means of earning their livelihood independently, the government shall take extraordinary steps to ensure their ‘active inclusiveness in the society through suitable education, skill development, training and placement against appropriate positions in the government departments and entities in the private sector according to the allocated quota.
- No person with disability shall be a subject of any research without his willingness or consent without any pressure, and such examination shall be through using accessible modes, means, and formats of communication.
Equality before law:
- The government shall ensure that persons with disabilities are treated equally like persons without such limitations and that they are not discriminated against in the exercise of their rights.
- It shall be ensured that such persons have the legal capacity to enjoy their rights, and if they need support to exercise legal capacity, such support is provided to them free of cost.
Right to privacy:
- Every person with disabilities shall have the right to privacy is available to all citizens regardless of his living in a private home, rehabilitation center, hostel ‘or any private or public accommodation.
- No person with disabilities, regardless of the place of residence or living arrangements, shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy of person, family, home, and communication or correspondence. Such persons shall have the right to the protection of the law against any illegal interference and attack against their person, family, property, and reputation.
Women, children, older adults, and transgender with disabilities.
- Because of the extraordinary vulnerability of women, children, senior citizens, and transgender with disabilities, the government shall, in a prescribed manner, take extraordinary measures to ensure that such women, children, senior citizens, and transgender with disabilities are given full protection under the law in enjoying their rights.
- The movement, as well as the private sector, shall, in the prescribed manners, take necessary measures to ensure development, advancement, and empowerment of women, children, senior citizens, and transgender with disabilities.
Ease of access and mobility:
- The government, as well as the private sector, shall take necessary measures towards allowing ease of access to the persons with disabilities to public buildings, hospitals, recreational facilities, public transport, streets and roads for which the old buildings and vehicles shall be appropriately modified and new buildings and vehicles shall be built conforming to appropriate standards in conformity with guidelines developed by the Council: Provided that the government shall ensure accessible washrooms, toilets, and bathrooms with all the facilities and necessary accessories.
- The Council shall develop a guideline on removing barriers and obstacles to -access in buildings, roads, mode of transportation, housing, hospitals, schools, workplaces, communication and information related services, recreational spaces, parks and also public 3 washrooms, and get those implemented by the concerned authorities and persons both public and private sectors.
- The Council shall develop a set of minimum standards and scope of access and related signage that each department, authority, entity, and the major enterprise shall put in place to – ensure necessary access of persons with disabilities.
- The government shall implement policies and programs to promote the personal mobility of persons with disabilities at an affordable cost or free.
- The government shall ensure individual seats in all means of transport for persons with disabilities and allot parking spaces exclusively for persons with disabilities at all public and private places.
- The Council shall develop and enforce guidelines allowing persons with disabilities to have full and appropriate access to all forms of mass communication, including information technology to enjoy the freedom of speech and freedom of information. A national relay system may be established to standardize mechanisms understandable consistently across the country.Protection from abusive, violent and intolerant discriminatory behavior:
- The government shall take all possible steps to protect persons with disabilities from all forms of abuse, violence, and exploitation at the hands of any person, institution, or authority.
- Whenever an act of abuse, violence and intolerant, discriminatory behavior is committed against any person with disability and the information of such law is communicated to the Council car any Iain enforcement agency, the concerned agency on receipt of such information shall immediately take necessary action to investigate and curb such activities and to take appropriate measures older law to lodge the victim of abuse, violence or intolerance, to a safe place for protected housing. No cost shall be recovered from such a victim for lodging in a safe place: in such a situation.
- Notwithstanding the provisions of any law for the time being in force, an act of physical violence against a person with disability causing even a minor injury shall be deemed as grievous injury and shall be treated as an act of violence under section 335 of the Pakistan Penal -Code, 1860 (Act XLV of 1860) and shall attract punishment accordingly. Other situations of aggravated abuse and violence shall also be deemed to have more gravity than in the case of a person without disabilities. (4) In case of need for legal aid, such aid shall be made available to such affected person at public expense or prevent its occurrence, as the case may be, or pass such order as deemed fit for the protection of such person with a disability.
Equity in education:
- The government shall take all necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are afforded equal rights to access government as well as private educational institutions and shall be provided with appropriate facilities by their education without any discrimination. 4
- The government shall provide free pre-primary to higher education to persons with disabilities.
- The government shall take necessary measures to establish particular educational institutions for persons with moderate to severe disabilities to cater to their special needs, in addition to making other institutions reasonably equipped and staffed to provide appropriate facilities for inclusive education to such persons in those general educational institutions.
- Persons with disabilities shall not be denied admission into any educational institution, whether state-owned or private, on the ground of their disabilities.
- It shall be illegal for an institution and its staff members to discriminate against or abuse or otherwise violate the rights of a person with a disability at his place of education for which both the institution and such violating person shall be punished.
- The government shall ensure inclusive education focusing on personality, development, creativity, and strengthening of the physical and mental capabilities of persons with disabilities.
- Reasonable and appropriate accommodation shall be provided to persons with disabilities in educational institutions, including hostels, where applicable.
- The government shall establish adequate dedicated and general facilities for teacher training to train an adequate number of specially trained teachers equipped with -skills to teach students with various disabilities.
- The government shall ensure that all persons with disabilities are given full access to all modes and means of education, including but not limited to, vocational training, online education, distance learning, and adult education.
Equity in employment:
- No person, institution, organization, or entity, whether public or private, shall discriminate against a person on the ground of disability in the matters of employment, promotion, career development, and enjoying fruits of his employment.
- The employer shall ensure the provision of reasonable accommodation, including necessary assistive aid and equipment, which a person with disabilities would reasonably require to perform his duties.
- The government shall reserve an employment quota as prescribed by the Federal Government to be periodically reviewed at various levels for persons with disabilities in government departments, institutions, entities, and corporate entities owned and managed by the government and the concerned department shall implement the allocated quota.
- The government shall take necessary steps to encourage private enterprises to employ persons with disabilities through incentives for which the government shall prepare long term inclusion plans and allocate necessary resources.
- The terms and conditions of employment shall not be less favorable for persons with disabilities as compared with those offered to other persons appointed against the same or similar positions. 5
- An establishment that does not employ persons with disabilities as required by subsection (3) shall pay into the Fund each month the sum of money it would have€’ paid as salary or wages to a person with disabilities had he been employed. In the event of non-payment or non-compliance, the matter shall be brought before an arbitration council to be established for the purpose by the Council.
Equip health and medical rehabilitation services:
- The government shall ensure barrier-free access to necessary public health services and infrastructure to persons with disabilities ‘*without any discrimination and any cost to such persons.
- The Council shall devise plans to provide special health insurance to persons with disabilities to ensure like medical coverage to such persons.
- The government shall encourage private sector health services providers through appropriate incentives to provide quality services to persons with disabilities at affordable rates or free.
- Special health services for early identification and intervention of disabilities and medical services, specially designed to prevent disability, shall be implemented.
- The government shall initiate with the help of the medical and scientific community, research to identify the causes of various disabilities and make efforts to create awareness rn public to adopt practices that help prevent disabilities from happening.
- The government shall, in respect of persons with disabilities, undertake initiatives to promote support and implement community-based rehabilitation and research initiatives’ at the community level. ‘ 72. Right to live independently in community –
- Persons with disabilities shall have equal right to live independently in the community. Such persons shall be provided with all necessary facilities by the government without discrimination to enable them to live independently.
- The government shall take necessary preventive measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded or segregated from the community based on their instability and that their access to communal facilities and services is restriction-free.
- The government shall, in respect of persons with disabilities, undertake initiatives to promote support and implement community-based rehabilitation and research initiatives’ at the community level. ‘ 72. Right to live independently in community –
- The government may also take necessary measures to enable the person with disabilities to have access to a range of in-house, residential and other community support services including personal assistance service necessary to support living and inclusion in the community.
Right of living:
- Every person with disability shall have right to a decent – a place of living of his choice, and no person shall discriminate against a person with disability b1′ way of refusing to rent him or sell to a place of living because of him being a person with a disability.
- The government shall evolve a policy towards fair and affordable housing for persons with disabilities in government-owned, sponsored or assisted projects and also in the six private housing schemes. The authorities approving the establishment of new housing schemes and -plans shall ensure that an appropriate number of affordable housing units are included in each such scheme or plan.
- The government may set up and maintain decent housing facilities for persons with disabilities who do not have a place to live and need decent temporary shelter. The Council shall, with the help of the authorities of the Federal Capital, civil society organizations and society at large assist in arranging temporary shelter for such persons.
Right to home and family:
- No person with a disability, especially a child or adult or senior citizen, shall be separated from his family on the grounds of disability unless a court of law requires him to be so separated in his best interest.
- Where the immediate family of a person with a disability is unable to cater to a person with a disability, especially a child with disabilities, the Court shall make an effort to place such person at a setup suitable for his safe living. –
- All persons with disabilities shall have the right to marry a person of their own choice and raise their family without any discrimination.
- No person with disability shall be subjected to any medical procedure leading to infertility, and forced sterilization shall be a non-compoundable offense.
- The government shall provide free, especially to women with disabilities. services regarding reproductive healthFreedom of expression and information:
- The government shall ensure that persons with disabilities have full and equitable rights regarding freedom of speech, right to expression, and information, and effective measures shall be taken for their such rights to be enjoyed.
- The Council shall take necessary measures to convey the voice of persons with disabilities and their organizations across the governments, civil society, and international -community.
- The Council shall encourage the state and private run electronic and print media to promote awareness on the rights of persons with disabilities through public service messages and programming inclusive for all types of disabilities.
- The government may provide advertisements to publications dedicated to persons with disabilities.
- (5) The government shall ensure that all websites hosted by Pakistani website service providers are accessible for persons with disabilities.
Right of political participation:
- Persons with disabilities shall have the full right to participate in the political activity in the country, including exercising the right to vote and right to be elected to an elected body.
- The Election Commission of Pakistan shall ensure that each polling station is accessible to persons with disabilities, and necessary arrangements are made for them to cast their 7 votes confidentially and without any difficulty. Any act by any person to cause restriction on the exercise of the right of the vote by a person with disability shall be deemed as a forceful obstruction as defined in the Elections Act,20l7 (XXXII of 2017), and shall be prosecuted and punishec[ accordingly.
- ‘The Council shall, with the help of the Election Commission of Pakistan, educate political parties on the issues and problems of the persons with disabilities.
- The Commission of Pakistan shall be mandated to develop voter’s accessibility mechanisms for persons with disabilities such as brail voting paper etc.
Access to justice:
The government shall ensure that persons with disabilities a:e Eovided with assistance, including sign language interpreters and attendants to access to the justice system.
Right to own property:
Persons with disabilities shall not be denied the right to own, sell, or inherit property.
Participation in sports, cultural and recreational activities:
- The government shall ensure that no person is discriminated against in participation of any sports, games, cultural and recreational activities on the ground of his disability. Assistive: devices, equipment, and latest technology shall be made available for their inclusion in sports;, cultural, recreational and leisure activities. One seat for persons with disabilities in the sports board shall be ensured, and the government shall ensure linkages of the monitoring mechanism for the pie Olympics and special ol1’pics sports association.
- Access to cultural materials, programs, and activities shall be provided in accessible and appropriate formats to persons with disabilities.
- Banner-free and discrimination-free access to media programs, films, theaters, parks, stadiums, playgrounds, beaches, and other places of leisure, recreation. Sports and cultural activities shall be provided to such persons with disabilities.
- The government shall facilitate the participation of persons with disabilities rn scouting, art classes, outdoor camps, hunting, tourism, and adventure activities and shall also help to develop and utilize their artistic, creative, and intellectual capabilities. –
- The government shall ensure that talent-enhancing abilities in both public and private schools including sports activities are developed.
- The government shall ensure that courses and activities are designed to promote arts and culture to enhance the talent of persons with disabilities.
- The government shall take steps so that access to cultural materials, programs, and activities in accessible and appropriate formats to persons with disabilities are ensured.
Protection of persons with disabilities in risk and disaster situations:
All persons with disabilities shall be given top priority in providing suitable protection an, safety in situations of risk and natural disaster and shall immediately be removed from such areas and moved to a safe place on priority.
- In situations of armed conflict, the police, civil armed forces, and the armed forces shall take appropriate measures on priority to ensure safety, protection, and removal of such persons.
- All authorities engaged in reconstruction activity after any situation of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies, or natural disaster shall ensure that persons with disabilities are accorded priority in reconstructing their institutions, homes, and other facilities and restoring services.
- The Council shall keep close coordination with the disaster management authorities for protection and removal to safety and keep a record of such persons caught in such a situation and ensure early rehabilitation.
- Needs and concerns of persons with disabilities should be included in disaster risk reduction
Part 3: Right to Administration
Strengthening and reconstitution of the National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons:
- The National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons constituted under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981 (XL of 1981) shall stand reconstituted as the Council on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- The Council shall meet at least quarterly, and the quorum of each meeting shall be one-fourth of the total number of the composition of the Council.
Functions of the Council:
- The Council shall have the responsibility to achieve and implement objectives of this Act and to assist the government in developing legal and institut.ional framework.
- The Council shall be the executive authority to implement this Act, to develop a legal and social environment and to help persons you, with disabilities, to have the protection of the law,in enjoying their fi. and Oriental rights.
- The Council shall, with the help of other authorities and persons, take all possible measures to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination, exploitation, tortilla(), inhuman or degrading treatment on the hands of anyone including their families and caregivers.
- The Council shall coordinate the implementation of the principles cf relevant convention at provincial and lower administrative levels through providing technical assistance;e to various organs of the provincial legislatures and governments in developing appropriate legal and institutional frameworks in their jurisdictions and making them achieve the objective of protection and enforcement of rights.
- The Council shall evaluate the effectiveness of laws and policies and assess the implementation of laws and policies at the national level and recommend to the government any changes required in the policies, laws, and practices.
- The Council shall conduct or cause to research the status of persons with disabilities all matters related to the promotion and protection of their rights.
- The Council shall put into place an institutional mechanism to regular 11′ mon it,or performance of various departments and organizations in the government and issue a 1.0 performance scorecard to each such entity and organization at least once in every three years. Similarly, the Council shall devise and maintain scorecards for private entities that seek such evaluation and assessment. Such performance audits shall be conducted by third party professionals and the employees of the Council.
- The Council shall assess its performance in creating a legal and social environment in the country and issue an annual status report at the end of every calendar year to present its report to the Parliament through Minister-in-charge.
- The Council shall be responsible to monitor the activities of private and community-based organizations to ensure that required standards of service are maintained. The Council may enforce an institutional mechanism for effective, efficacious and transparent functions of such organizations and may impose restrictions on organizations not meeting the objective criteria laid down by it.
- The Council shall have the powers to address individual and collective complaints of violations of human rights of persons with disabilities.
Registration of persons with disabilities:
- Any person with disability desirous of being employed or otherwise rehabilitated may have his name registered in the register maintained by the Council or its designated office in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed by the Council.
- The Council shall, if it thinks necessary, cause each person with a disability registered under sub-section
- to be assessed as to the nature of his functional disability and also as to his aptitude and the nature of work he is fit to do by a medical officer authorized by it or by such assessing board as it may appoint having at least one medical officer and the medical officer or, as the case may be, the assessing board shall submit its report to the Council in such form as may be prescribed by the Council.
- If the person with a disability is considered by the Council fit to work, he shall be informed indicating the nature of work for which he may be employed or the trade or vocation in which he may be trained and an endorsement to that effect shall be made against his name in the register.
- If the person with a disability is not considered by the Council fit to work, he shall be informed accordingly for an endorsement to that effect being made against his name in the register and the Council shall take such measures for his rehabilitation as it thinks fit.
- If a person is declared by the Council not to be a disabled person, his name shall be struck off from the register.
Establishments to employ persons with disabilities:
Not less than one percent of the total number of persons employed by an establishment at any time shall be persons whose frames have been registered with the Council or its designated office of the area in which such establishment is located and against whose names in the register maintained under section 23 an – endorsement exists to the effect that they are fit to work.
- The persons with disabilities employed against any post in pursuance of sub-section
- shall be entitled to the terms and conditions which are not less favorable than those of the other persons employed by the establishment against similar posts.
- When calculating the percentage of the posts in an establishment for the purposes of employment of persons with disabilities, the fraction of 0.5 and above shall count as a whole – number.
Establishment to pay to the fund:
An establishment that does not employ a person with a disability as required by section 24 shall pay into the Fund each month the sum of money it would have paid as salary or wages to a disabled person had he been employees.
Dissolution of the Council:
On all commencement of this Act. the council formed under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981(XL of 1!)81) shall stand dissolved and on such dissolution all assets, rights, powers, authorities and privileges, and property, movable and immovable, cash and bank balance, reserve funds, investments, and all other interests and rights in, or arising out of such property and all debts, liabilities, and obligations of whatever kind of the dissolved council subsisting t immediately, before its dissolution shall stand transferred to and vest in the Council.
Governmental authorities and other persons to assist the Council:
- All the functionaries of the government shal1 extend full and effective cooperation to the Council in – ensuring the enforcement of this Act and other laws for protecting the rights of the persons with disabilities. (
- Any person in the governmental position not effectively cooperating with the Council shall be deemed to have committed misconduct and shall be proceeded,J against accordingly.
Funds for rehabilitation:
- The government may establish nor-lapsable endowment fund and for sustainably financing projects and activities related to ensuring effective rights protection and inclusion in society of persons with disabilities.
- The Fund established under sub-section (l) shall be called ICT Disability Fund which shall be managed by the Council.
- the Fund established under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981 gL 0f 1981) shall stand transferred along with all sums and money to the Fund established under sub-sector.
Creating public awareness:
- The Council shall take immediate, all appropriate and result in oriented measures to raise awareness amongst the society as a whole with regards to recognition and respect for persons with disabilities and their rights.
- The Council shall recommend to the Federal and Provincial Governments, measures to include topics on disability in educational curriculum and to create, arenas among young students about persons with disabilities.
- The government shall include topics on addressing problems of persons with disabilities in training programs of institutions responsible for imparting training to officers and officials of the government, including judges and court officials.
The government shall take all possible measures to ensure that persons with disabilities attain maximum independence and ability to participate in activities -of life including getting an education, doing business, getting employed and participating in sports and cultural activities. The government shall promote continuing skill development and training i-n existing advanced skills and technologies to persons with disabilities for effective participation and integration in the community.
- The government shall undertake initiatives to promote, support and implement community-based rehabilitation and research initiatives of its own.Insurance cover:
- the Council may devise and put in place comprehensive group medical and accident insurance for persons with disabilities and may also facilitate such persons in getting affordable life and other forms of insurance.
- The Council may pay the premium for persons with disabilities who cannot pay the premium from their sources.
Special disability courts:
- For speedy justice, the government may designate and may encourage provincial governments to designate, courts to hear cases under this Act or other laws in which one or more parties are persons with disabilities.
- There shall be an effectively institutionalized mechanism to monitor cases in courts under sub-section (1) by appropriate judicial forums as devised by the respective High Court.
Power to make rules:
The Council may, in consultation with the Federal Government and by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out purposes of this Act. (2) The rules made under the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981(XL of 1981) so far as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act shall continue to be in force until altered, amended or repealed.
Power to make regulation:
The Council may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make regulations for its own efficient and professional working and effective achievement of objectives of this Act.
Part 4: Miscellaneous
Removal of difficulties:
- If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Federal Government may make such order, not inconsistent. with the provisions of this Act, as may appear to be necessary for removing the difficulty.
- The Disabled Persons Employment and Rehabilitation Ordinance. 1981 (XL o1’1981) is, to the extent of Islamabad Capital Territory, at this moment repealed.