In its National Development Plan launched in 2017, the Kuwaiti government includes under the “human capital” pillar several projects for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. But a specific national strategy on disability is needed, to ensure that barriers against participation are lifted, and that a human rights-based approach to disability is adopted in all public policies.

The Law no. 8/2010 for the rights of people with disabilities is Kuwait’s legislative and normative framework in the field of disability. Since its adoption, the country has taken important measures to promote access of persons with disabilities to social protection, health, employment and education. However, this law is not fully compliant with the CRPD: it does not recognize the right of persons with disabilities to life, freedom from torture, political participation and other civil and political rights, and its definition of disability is not in line with the Convention. 

The medical model of disability permeates law 8/2010, and all others relevant to persons with disabilities, and is reflected in the type of benefits and services that they can receive. Persons with disabilities are commonly considered as “patients in need of constant care”, incapable to manage their own affairs or work, and their legal capacity is restricted in the civil code.  These perceptions and legal restrictions reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate their exclusion from labor markets and their dependency on “care-givers”.

A major source of concern is the stark disparities regarding the enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities between Kuwaiti nationals and non-Kuwaitis, especially considering that non-Kuwaitis represent 70% of the country’s population. While the State indicated that it provides services to everyone, including non-nationals, there are numerous allegations of discrimination against stateless Bidoon with disabilities. Many of them are unable to register and obtain an ID card, which is a prerequisite to access any services.

Authorities must ensure that non-Kuwaitis and stateless Bidoon with disabilities have access to these rights on an equal basis, and that no person or group of persons will be subject to any kind of reprisals for demanding their rights.  

The realization of rights of persons with disabilities in Kuwait is within reach: The implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the National Development Plan “Kuwait Vision 2035” are great opportunities to foster development that is inclusive of persons with disabilities. There’s interest, commitment and political will on the part of Kuwaiti authorities to improve the situation of persons with disabilities in the country. If adequately implemented, Kuwait’s experience could serve as an example of inclusion for other countries in the Gulf region. 
 
Read the full statement here.
 
  • Copyright 2016