Jordanian govt. fails to back disability rights law with funding


Jordan’s parliament passed a law on the rights of people with disabilities, which offers comprehensive protections for people with disabilities in all spheres of society, in 2017. However, the government has not budgeted funds for several ministries and other programs to carry it out.

Jordan’s government has failed to fund key ministries to carry out the law on the rights of people with disabilities passed two years ago, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Jordan’s disability rights law is great on paper, but it means nothing for people with disabilities if the government will not put it into practice,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Jordanian lawmakers should ensure that the 2020 budget provides adequate funding for policies and programs to ensure the rights of people with disabilities, said Page.

Human Rights Watch analyzed the 2018 and 2019 ministerial budget reports published by Jordan’s General Budget Department. For two years, several ministries did not allocate any funding for disability rights initiatives, including the Ministries of Interior; Municipal Affairs; Tourism and Antiquities; Transport; Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship; and Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. Awqaf refers to social assistance programs.

On December 3, a group of people with disabilities protested outside the prime minister’s office in Jordan’s capital, Amman, to demand greater inclusion and government support for people with disabilities.

While the Education Ministry has an official inclusive education policy, a Human Rights Watch review of its 2018 and 2019 budget reports found no specific funding allocated to inclusive education.

International standards guarantee the right to inclusive education, where children with and without disabilities study together in local community schools, with support as necessary. Instead, the ministry allocated 0.4 percent of its total budget to “special education,” or education of children with disabilities in segregated settings.

In August, Human Rights Watch sought the views of the Jordanian government by sending letters to 12 ministries regarding current budget allocations to carry out the disability rights law and Jordan’s international human rights obligations. They are the Ministries of Interior; Education; Higher Education and Scientific Research; Health; Justice; Public Works and Housing; Social Development; Tourism and Antiquities; Transport; Vocational Training Corporation; Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship; and Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

At time of publishing, none have yet replied.

While the government has not allocated sufficient funding to ministries, it has committed to supporting the Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities, which exists to coordinate implementation of the disability rights law across government ministries. An official with the council told Human Rights Watch that the proposed government budget for 2020 raised the council’s budget to around US$5 million, up from US$2 million in 2019.

In 2008, Jordan ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires governments to ensure the rights of people with disabilities, including through “legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the Convention.”

In its 2018 observations on Jordan, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which reviews how countries carry out the convention, recommended that the government “adopt a new national strategy for persons with disabilities and a related action plan” and ensure “allocation of the financial, technical, and human resources necessary for its implementation.”

During its review the committee criticized Jordan’s failures to ensure adequate funding to carry out the convention. It noted “the absence of a systematic framework and public budget dedicated to the acquisition of mobility aids and assistive technologies necessary for the unrestricted personal mobility of persons with disabilities.” The committee recommended that Jordan adopt “a dedicated systematic framework and budget” to guarantee disability rights. (Source: HRW)