Advocates say Hong Kong not doing enough for rights of the disabled

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 1:55pm

Advocates will next week step up their international campaign for improved rights for people with disabilities in Hong Kong.

A delegation with representatives from 29 disability concern groups will attend a meeting of the UN committee on the rights of the disabled that starts in Geneva on Monday.

They will carry a message similar to that of a much smaller delegation earlier this year: that despite the 2008 implementation by Beijing of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Hong Kong - to which the convention also applies - is still not doing enough.

"Disabled rights have not improved in the past four years," Human Rights Monitor education officer Kwok Hiu-chung said yesterday. "The government may have stepped up superficial improvements like building certain facilities around town, but the mindset hasn't changed - handicapped people's needs are still treated as welfare, not a right."

Kwok said the needs of the handicapped were handled by the welfare, health and sometimes education departments. "We hope to see the establishment of one department to handle disabled needs," he said.

Anita Yu On-lam, of the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf said Hong Kong had only 10 licensed sign-language interpreters for about 90,000 deaf people.

"There should be a sign-language interpreter for all government meetings and the licensing exams, which have not been held since 2007, should be resumed as soon as possible," Yu said through an interpreter.

Chan Tsun-kit, director of grass-roots group Chosen Power, who has autistic tendencies, said: "Ultimately, we need to change people's way of thinking of handicapped people - we are all the same."

Also attending the convention is acting chairwoman of the Democratic Party Emily Lau Wai-hing, who will report on abuse of disabled women. Officials from at least five different government departments will also attend.