ID :
Sun, 09/07/2008 - 11:19
Auther :

Discrimination against disabled continues in China: HRW

Dharam Shourie

New York, Sept 6 (PTI) Despite recent positive steps,
discrimination against disabled persons continues in China and
organisations working for them face government harassment, a
leading international human rights watchdog has said.

In a statement issued Friday on the eve of Paralympic
Games in Beijing, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch
Sophie Richardson praised the Chinese government for enacting
laws and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities.

"But so far these protections have meant little to persons
with disabilities and their advocates in China who struggle to
promote their rights and, in particular, to fairly compete for
employment," she said.

The Chinese government has in recent years enacted a
variety of new laws including the Law on the Protection of
Disabled Persons, Regulations on the Education of Persons with
Disabilities, and the Regulations on Employment of Persons
with Disabilities.

These regulations on paper provide impressive protection
to the rights of China's estimated 82.7 million persons with

But Human Rights Watch said that the new laws have not
ended discriminatory employment practices. In June 2007,
shocking images of workers who had been held in slave-like
conditions in Shanxi brick kilns were published and many among
them were found to have mental disabilities.

In a 2007 survey by the China University of Political
Science and Law of 3,454 people in 10 cities, including
Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing, 22 percent of the respondents
said their physical disabilities had prompted employers in
both the public and private sectors to reject them for jobs.

Negative attitudes may have contributed to unemployment
of the disabled, the Human Rights Watch said, adding that
official statistics show that more than 8.58 million
employable people with disabilities did not have jobs in 2007
and that this number rises by 300,000 per year.

Although the government has imposed a mandatory quota
requiring that people with disabilities comprise a minimum of
1.5 percent of all employees of government departments,
enterprises, and institutions, there is little evidence of
official efforts to enforce that quota, the rights watchdog

It called on the Chinese government to ratify the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Optional
Protocol, and to loosen restrictions on grassroots civil
society organisations dedicated to assisting people with

Citizens of states which join the Optional Protocol can
seek redress at the U.N.'s Committee on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities after they exhaust domestic legal remedies
for convention violations.

The Chinese government has only in the past two decades
begun to tolerate grassroots civil society organisations,
which operate outside official bureaucracy and control of the
Chinese Communist Party.

However, such organisations, particularly those devoted
to addressing the needs of China's H.I.V./A.I.D.S. and chronic
hepatitis B sufferers, continue to be targets for repression
by Chinese security forces suspicious of such groups, the
Human Rights Watch said.