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CNDH releases an advisory opinion on draft ‘framework’ law on disability rights protection and promotion

The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) released an advisory opinion on draft ‘framework’ law (loi cadre) # 97-13 on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The bill was referred to CNDH for opinion by the Speaker of the House of Councillors, on the 22nd of January 2015.

CNDH recommends, in its opinion, harmonizing the provisions of the bill with international human rights standards, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in particular. The bill should also be aligned with the principles and objectives of the Moroccan constitution and take into account comparative experience.

CNDH's main recommendations may be summarized as follows:

Objectives and principles: revising the wording of the first objective in the bill, to refer to the prevention of causes of disability and the elimination of incapacitating effects.

Social protection, health coverage and accessibility: adding a provision to give people with disabilities, their families and family caregivers the right to compensation to help them cover their needs.

Access to the right to health: introducing provisions to guarantee free or affordable care programs and health services to people with disabilities, prohibiting involuntary or forced treatment, protecting the right to prior free and informed consent, implementing the right to access to health information, and informing, training and supporting the families of persons with disabilities and caregivers.

Access to the right to education: introducing provisions to commit public authorities to providing reasonable accommodation, according to the needs of each learner with disabilities, taking measures to facilitate the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of linguistic identity of the deaf community, ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deaf-blind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, in environments which maximize academic and social development.

The right to work: strengthening the rights of persons with disabilities to employment and vocational training. CNDH proposes introducing a provision to commit public authorities to supporting opportunities for self-employment, job research, job retention, and return-to-work programs. CNDH also recommends implementing the recommendations of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on work and employment, which call on States “to adopt positive measures to increase employment of persons with disabilities in the public and private sectors, including through the promotion of self-employment schemes which are non-discriminatory and fully inclusive of persons with disabilities.

In addition, CNDH suggests adding two provisions to guide inclusion policies targeting persons with disabilities in the labor market: the first aims at providing for incentives to encourage the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector and the second at committing employers (in the public, semi-public or private sectors) to providing reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities in the workplace. CNDH also recommends further strengthening the commitment of the government and public authorities to developing national standards for businesses and disability-friendly employment agencies.

Accessibility: ensuring accessibility to infrastructure and all properties, new products and services, and strengthening the commitment to removing obstacles and ensure access to the physical environment and public transportation, information and communication services. CNDH also proposes a special card to be issued to persons with disabilities at the territorial level (regional or provincial). The Council recommends adding an article to the final provisions of the bill committing public authorities to taking all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities at risk and emergency situations, and an article committing public authorities to developing the use of sign language ​​in all aspects of life.

The wording for the mandate of the National Committee provided for in Article 25 of the bill may confuse the levels of institutional monitoring under article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

-  1st level: under the first paragraph of article 33, “States Parties, in accordance with their system of organization, shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to the implementation of the present Convention, and shall give due consideration to the establishment or designation of a coordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels.”

-  2nd level: under the second paragraph of article 33, States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention. When designating or establishing such a mechanism, States Parties shall take into account the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.”

CNDH recommends the rewording of Article 25 of the bill to align its provisions with the first paragraph of Article 33 of the Convention.

CNDH’s advisory opinion included additional recommendations to ensure the implementation of the public commitments made under the bill, including public budget process, studying the impact of the bill according to the human rights based approach, as well as strengthening the treaty practice of the Kingdom.

CNDH recommends including in the economic and financial report, the gender-based budget report and the human resources report that are released with the draft Finance Report, statistics and indicators on the impact of budget decisions on persons with disabilities’ access to their rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution and the international Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities.

CNDH and the Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption released a joint memorandum on draft ‘organic’ law # 13 65 on the work of the government and the status of its members (on August 1, 2013). In its advisory opinion on disability rights, the Council reaffirms the recommendation to introduce a provision to preliminary study the impact of bills and draft laws according to the human rights based approach.

The Council also recommends reformulating the objectives of the social cohesion fund, created under the 2012 Finance Act, adding as an explicit objective the financing costs related to the implementation of government commitments under the ‘framework’ law on disability rights and other relevant laws.

CNDH recommends the ratification of two highly important international conventions to strengthen the normative basis of the rights of persons with disabilities:

- World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, signed by Morocco on June 28, 2013;

- ILO’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983 (No. 159).

Prior to drafting this advisory opinion, CNDH held eight regional consultation workshops with the stakeholders concerned, from 28 January to 1 February 2015. More than 400 local, regional and national disability rights associations took part in these workshops.

CNDH held consultation meetings with three trade unions (CDT, FDT and UNTM) and the Moroccan General Confederation of Enterprises (CGEM), on 9-10 February 2015. Written contributions on the subject were received from CGEM and several trade unions.