Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles
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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
Transmitted by Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (22 April 1996)
The officially recognized disability policy in the Maldives is expressed in guidelines adopted by the Government. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: prevention, rehabilitation, accessibility measures, anti-discrimination law, individual support.
Since the adoption of the Rules the Government has taken measures to initiate and support information campaigns conveying the message of full participation.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by general legislation. The judicial mechanism available to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts), while non-judicial mechanisms include a Governmental body (administrative).
The general legislation applies to all different categories of persons with disabilities with respect to: education, employment, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights, access to court-of-law, right to privacy, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, and participation in decisions affecting them.
No new legislation concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.
There are laws and regulations ensuring accessibility of the build environment requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, land, sea and air transportation, and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a national authority and the constructor. The following measures have been promoted by the Government to facilitate accessibility of the build environment: levelling off pavements, access to public places. There is no special transport. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are economic/budgetary factors and technical factors. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognized status. It is neither used as the first language in education of deaf people nor recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are Government measures for encouraging media to make their information services accessible for persons with disabilities but no measures to make other forms of public information services accessible for persons with disabilities.
No services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
The "Society for the Handicapped" is the national umbrella organization. Legal provisions mandate the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are always consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national level. The Government gives organizational/logistic support to organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to some extent in Government, legislature, judiciary, political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. The organizations in the Maldives have the role to: advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures, contribute to public awareness, and provide services.
Co-ordination of work
There is a national co-ordinating committee which is reporting to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The committee includes representatives of many Ministries, from organizations of persons with disabilities, and from the private sector. The Government expects the co-ordinating committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks such as health education on prevention, promotion, rehabilitation. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes in the disability field, a better dialogue, more effective use of resources, and improved promotion of public awareness.
According to the Government the adoption of the Rules has not led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.
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