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Rights groups warn of loopholes in article for rights of the disabled

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Joint statement criticises draft article in the constitution for not completely protecting the rights of disabled citizens

Fifty-one civil society organisations, associations, and public figures objected to the text in a draft article of the constitution that deals with the rights of disabled citizens, proposed by the 50-member assembly tasked with amending the 2012 constitution.

The draft article states, “The state is committed to ensuring the health, economic, social, cultural, recreational, and athletic rights of people with disabilities and dwarfism and their equal educational integration with other citizens while providing them with job opportunities. [The state] is also committed to creating public utilities and an environment in accordance with ratified international conventions, and guarantees their political rights in accordance with the law.”

The joint statement from the signatories, which include associations that help the disabled, provided three criticisms of the draft amendment. Firstly, the group pointed out that the article only ensured integration with other citizens when dealing with education, which threatened to deny “the rest of the rights enshrined in the constitution” to those with disabilities.

The statement said the potential constitution article came short on ensuring that the Egyptian government adhere to the appropriate international conventions, pointing out that the article’s text only said that such conventions would be followed when it came to “creating public utilities and an environment” for the disabled, which they said would “expose the rest of the principles and rights set forth in the agreements to marginalisation and implicit or total lack of recognition.”

The article, said the group, also only discussed the principle of equality, “ignoring the principles of justice and equal opportunity, which is a continuation of the disappointing scenario of marginalisation and discrimination.”

In September the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), one of the signatories to Tuesday’s press release, criticised the draft amended constitution after it was released by the 10-member legal experts committee, saying it failed to preserve disability rights.

EIPR criticised the draft of being “negative and discriminatory” towards disabled citizens and warned that its articles fueled discrimination.


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