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Jakarta Post

'Nothing about us without us': Groups call for revision of disabilities commission regulation

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 25, 2020   /   07:27 am
'Nothing about us without us': Groups call for revision of disabilities commission regulation Representatives of 161 disability rights groups from across Indonesia have signed a petition urging Jokowi to revise a presidential regulation on the country's disabilities commission, arguing it does not reflect the aspirations of people with disabilities. (Shutterstock/PhuShutter)

Disability rights organizations from across the country have signed a petition to urge President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to revise a newly issued regulation on the country’s disabilities commission, calling attention to the many issues in its provisions that they say may impede progress.

Jokowi issued Presidential Regulation No. 68/2020 on the National Disabilities Commission (KND) on June 8, but the groups claimed they had not been notified until June 19, saying the government had acted “silently”.

“We were all surprised by the issuance of the presidential regulation,” the groups said in the petition, which was signed by representatives of 161 disability rights groups from Indonesia's 34 provinces on Tuesday.

The groups demanded the regulation be revised, arguing it did not reflect the aspirations of people with disabilities, and urged the government to postpone its enactment until revisions had been made.

Among the issues the disability rights groups had with the regulation is that it places the KND as a work unit under the Social Affairs Ministry, which is not responsible for overseeing human rights issues.

“This is a step backward from the law on disabled people that regarded disability as a human rights issue,” the groups stated, urging the government to place the KND under the Law and Human Rights Ministry or the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

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Under Law No. 8/2016 on people with disabilities, the KND is categorized as an independent and non-structural institution tasked with monitoring, evaluating and advocating for the protection and fulfillment of the rights of the disabled.

“By being placed under the Social Affairs Ministry, the KND could become entangled in conflicts of interest with the ministry, whose work will often be the target of evaluation, monitoring and advocacy by the KND itself,” the groups said.

Another reason the groups object to the new regulation is that it limits opportunities for disabled people to participate in the KND by allocating only four out of seven seats in the commission's membership for disabled people.

The groups argued the regulation made it impossible for the KND membership to be made up entirely of disabled people, saying the state should prioritize the involvement of disabled people in the supervision of their own rights.

The groups urged the government to allow people with disabilities to hold at least five seats in the KND membership. They also demanded that the chairperson of the KND and their deputy must be people with disabilities.

In the petition, the groups claimed the selection and the appointment of KND members did not involve such groups, which they said could undermine the independence and partiality of the selection committee.

The National Coalition Working Group on the Implementation of the Law on People with Disabilities has sought to establish a dialogue with the government regarding the arrangement of the KND regulation since last year.

Read also: People with disabilities hit roadblocks to higher education

In late 2019, the working group raised objections over the then-latest draft of the presidential regulation on the KND, which only later was reveled to have entered the finalization phase at the State Secretariat.

In February, the working group also met with Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, during which the minister promised to review the draft, but there has not been further communication since.

“We believe the aspirations of people with disabilities regarding the formation of the KND have never reached the President,” the disabled rights groups said.

The groups expressed dismay that disabled people had not been involved in the drafting and public dissemination of the KND regulation, as is required under Article 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

“The article requires the government to consult closely and intensively with disabled people through representative organizations each time the government makes a regulation or a policy that concerns them,” the groups said.

The issuance of the KND regulation had ignored the UNCRPD principle of “nothing about us without us”, meaning people with disabilities understand best the problems they face and how to solve them, they added.