It’s essential to know few things about Jordan so as to have a better understanding of the Disability movement development and how Jordan is striving seriously to protect Human Rights at large especially Human Rights treaties that Jordan obligated itself Internationally to fulfill every and each article of those treaties.
The latest treaty that Jordan played a major role during its drafting process to being one of the first countries to sign and then ratify after a short period of time is the 9th Human Rights “ The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.
Due to the Jordanian government strong political well, civil society organization, self-advocate groups, Persons with Disabilities and their organizations; hard work in this arena has been achieved for the past many years, and because we strongly believe that” The Jordanian Citizen is the most precious thing that we possess “AS the late majesty King Hussein God bless his soul always says and H M king Abdullah II continue to embraces that reality, I had the distinct pleasure to be elected as the Inaugural Chairperson of the Committee 2009-2010 as the first proud Jordanian and the first person from the Arab region.
This by itself to me is quite an achievement that reflects our strong belief in the cause we are working and striving hard to achieve by implementing the articles of the CRPD. Even though am speaking in my personal capacity, we at he UN CRPD committee take many factors into considerations once we look at a particular official country report and parallel reports from civil society organizations or DPOs. For instant, we look at the country back ground and measures taken prior to ratification and what measures taken or planned to be taken in due time after ratification, culture, heritage, geographic distribution whether the country is a third world developing State or developed country, and we also look at socio-economical resources (such as natural resources that can be allocated to implement the treaty at all levels) and many other things we look in to details. From what I have seen yet far, from looking at official country reports and parallel reports as well from both developing and developed countries, I have seen gapes and violations exists in all of these countries.
In my views, this is not a negative aspect as long as we try and do our utmost to change whatever negative to positive measure that can impact the lives of Persons with Disabilities to stop discriminations of all types, to reach equality and inclusive society, to participate in civil & political rights on equal footage as others, to achieve equal opportunity for all and to be treated as others whom compose a society. We all know that Disability is not a contagious disease or sickness; rather it is diversity in human kind. I can truly say that when HMK ordered for the National Disability Strategy to be drafted and I had the honor to be one of the members of this Royal committee responsible of drafting the strategy, we toke every aspect of the CRPD into considerations article by article and I personally was so happy to two major changes take place, One is the Change in the 1993 Law of the welfare of the disabled to 2007 new law the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities The second very important achievement was the establishment of the Higher Counsel for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities among many other positive & fruitful changes.
Change is a healthy process and processes do take time and efforts especially with limited resources to be achieved, I can say hear, Jordan is on the right track and progressing positively in the Disability arena. Also to me, the HCD is fairly a new entity that is still building its infrastructure and capacities and again, I think they are moving ahead despite all obstacles and barriers that they faced. I must salute the HCD for their hard working and for their seriousness in moving forward with the disability issues in Jordan. They play a major role in working horizontally with all stakeholders from all sectors of the society (Governmental, Non-Governmental, Private sector, Academic institutions, Persons with Disabilities and their families, Etc…). On the fact that the HCD president from the Royal family (HRH Prince Ra’ad Bin Zaid), I have seen this raw model done in many countries were a royalty or a dignitary’s running such entities.
To me, this is a very essential and positive method to use to raise the awareness of an issue and shift its status to a positive manner and in the Jordanian case, HRH Prince Ra’ad Bin Zaid is playing that role and has been a true advocate of disability not only in Jordan, but also in the region and internationally and he is a will know figure in the international disability arena. He has devoted more than 30 years plus of his life to support and uplifted the disability movement in Jordan and quite frankly, HRH has achieved that superbly. So having a royalty or a dignitary setting in the presidency seat of such a counsel can only lead to positivity and empowerment of the movement not otherwise for sure.
We all saw the move behind the seen that was broadcasted by BBC last week and it was disturbing to all of us who saw the movie, of course such hard treatment and d cruelty of this nature is not acceptable by any one standards, but it happened and HMK immediate interference was highly appreciated and it can only show that Jordan is a modern country and it believes strongly of Human Rights, besides the fact that it shows the strong political well to implement the CRPD and other Human Rights treaties that Jordan is party to and to re-affirm that the Jordanian citizen are the most precious thing we possess and equality is assured to each and every Jordanian citizen. In evaluating the bad scenario which we all saw at one or more private special education centers, I have few comments here. First of all, such violations should not happen and I am very happy to see that those who committed these violations are sent to the courts to be dealt with legally. Such centers should be closed as the CRPD calls for and the Ministry whom in-charged of issuing licenses and permits for such centers to operate should follow the most up to date standards, regulations and international specifications for operating such centers. Centers of this nature should not be licensed just to generate profits on the account of providing quality services by qualified employees. A more strict periodic monitoring and evaluation of these should have the momentum and continuity of being monitored and evaluated.
After the letter of HMK to the Government and the time frame he gave (Two weeks), the Ministry of Social affairs composed the committee immediately with full membership of the ministry. I can see the negativity of such action, but I can see more positivity in the minister action by withdrawing the membership of the ministry in order to have biased and transparent findings of the committee and that is a positive change and lesson learnt by it.
In civil rights movements such as the disability movement in Jordan, it’s going to take efforts and hard work from all of us to make changes in a positive manner. We must work hand in hand and together to achieve such common and mutual goals since the burden falls on all of us and on all players in any given society. (Government, Non-government, Civil Society, Persons with Disabilities, Their families and organizations and all, generally speaks). We should not sally each other by all means and we should work towards closing these existing gaps and not to make them wider. We should all complement each other with knowledge, expertise to overcome barriers and obstacles of such nature. Again, Implementation of international obligations falls upon all of us and we should act and work in a team style to achieve our objectives which is basically (EQUALATY AND INCLUSIVNESS FOR ALL). This can only be accomplished if we join hands and work together rather than splitting in personal opinions and sally each other using tools such as media, etc… Believe me; this can only set us back rather than moving us forward. Unity and solidarity is the key to success.
– Mohammed Al-Tarawneh Inaugural Chairperson and current member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities representing Jordan Independently U N –OHCHR Registry 079-5555 850.