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Jakarta Post

Juliari allays concerns over ministerial control of disabilities commission

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 26, 2020   /   09:40 am
Juliari allays concerns over ministerial control of disabilities commission A visually impaired man walks on a tactile floor marker on Jan. 28, 2019 at a platform of Pondok Cina railway station in Depok, West Java. (The Jakarta Post/Ricky Yudhistira)

The Social Affairs Ministry has responded to concerns that the ministry might be exercising control over the National Disabilities Commission (KND), saying that it did not interfere in any of the commission's functions.

“It need not be a concern, because the [KND] secretariat has merely an administrative support [function] and it has no intervention from the Social Affairs Ministry,” Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara said in a statement on Tuesday.

On June 8, President Joko Widodo issued Presidential Regulation No. 68/2020 on the KND that placed the commission as a work unit under the Social Affairs Ministry.

Disability rights organizations from across the country expressed concerns over potential conflicts of interest between the KND and the ministry, whose purview does not include human rights issues.

The groups also objected to the new KND regulation that limited opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in the KND as its members. The groups also regretted that persons with disabilities were not involved in drafting the new regulation.

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

Juliari said he believed that the ministry had followed the rules in drafting the KND regulation as stipulated in Law No. 8/2016 on people with disabilities, which mandates that the Social Affairs Ministry coordinate with the relevant institutions on drafting new regulations.

Under the law, the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry was to initiate the drafting process in discussion with the Social Affairs Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Law and Human Rights Ministry, before it was submitted for the President’s approval, Juliari said.

“Disability rights groups have also been involved since the preparation [of the draft], and the government has responded to  their aspirations,” he said.

The Social Affairs Ministry is currently preparing a budget proposal to ensure that the KND is funded by 2021. It is also preparing to set up a selection committee to appoint the KND commissioners.

The committee is to select 14 candidates as KND commissioners through an open process and then submit their names to the Social Affairs Minister, who then submits the proposed candidates to the President.

Read also: Govt, House agree to set up commission for people with disabilities

The KND's organizational structure, including human resources and the secretariat, as well as supporting infrastructure, are to be finalized by the end of this year, so the newly installed commissioners can start developing and implement their work programs by early 2021.

“So it is clear, the KND secretariat [provides] administrative support,” said Juliari, adding that the commission's success would be determined by how the commissioners perform.

He stressed that disability was a crosscutting issue that required the coordination of several agencies, and that the commission had been long awaited to monitor, guarantee and advocate the rights of persons with disabilities.

Juliari expressed hope that the KND would provide strong and comprehensive advocacy, such as pushing for the inclusion of disabled workers in government and the private sector, and making progressive efforts to fulfill their right to access to public services and facilities.