Barriers to Implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Sri Lanka
Disability remains one of the most glaring examples of social inequality in Sri Lanka. Persons living with disabilities have been largely ignored by development policy and practice, by donors, by the media, by the human rights movement, and by womens groups. Statistics on disability are ambiguous: in 2013 the Ministry of Health estimated that 10% of the population was disabled, and in 2011 the World Disability Report, using local data, estimated that 12.9% of the population was disabled. In the North and East of the country, it is estimated that 15% of the population, carry a disability. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that many of those disabled as a result of the 26-year ethnic war were breadwinners.
Sri Lanka ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in February 2016. The time is now ripe to move policy and practice in Sri Lanka from a charity-centred approach to a rights-based approach. In this paper, Adriana Cefis discusses the barriers to the domestic implementation of the norms contained in the CRPD. For this paper she interviewed several organisations and individuals working on disability rights in Sri Lanka, including men and women living with disabilities. Almost all agreed that Sri Lanka should move policy and practice from a charity-centred approach to a rights-based approach as laid down in the CRPD. In this paper she looks at the barriers to realizing disability rights in Sri Lanka and offers recommendations for policy and practice.