The Balochistan Persons with Disabilities Act, 2017

“AN ACT to promote and ensure full and effective inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the community in line with the Islamic teachings and international best practices to protect their rights.”

Salient Features

Equity & Non-discrimination: The Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in employment, education, access to healthcare, public transportation, and other areas. This means that persons with disabilities should have equal access to these services and should not be discriminated against in any way.

Accessibility standards: Act requires both the government and private sector to take necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have ease of access to public buildings, hospitals, recreational facilities, public transport, streets, and roads. This includes modifying old buildings and vehicles to make them accessible to persons with disabilities, as well as constructing new buildings and vehicles that conform to appropriate accessibility standards.

Protection from Abuse, Violence, and Exploitation: The act highlights the government's responsibility to protect persons with disabilities from abuse, violence, and exploitation and ensure that they have access to legal aid. It recognizes that persons with disabilities are vulnerable and require specific protection to ensure their safety and well-being.

Equity in Education: The Act aims to provide equal access to education for all, without discrimination. This includes free education from pre-primary to secondary and 50 percent concession for higher education for persons with disabilities, with special educational institutions established for those with moderate to severe disabilities. No person with a disability can be denied admission into any educational institution. The government is responsible for ensuring inclusive education that focuses on developing the personality, creativity, and physical and mental capabilities of persons with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are to be made for persons with disabilities in educational institutions, including hostels, and there is a dedicated effort to train teachers to work with students with various disabilities. Lastly, the government is responsible for ensuring that persons with disabilities have full access to all modes and means of education, including vocational training, online education, distance learning, and adult education.

Equity in Employment: The act aims to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in matters of employment and provides for reservation of 5 percent jobs for persons with disabilities in the government departments. It prohibits any person, institution, organization, or entity, whether public or private, from discriminating against a person on the ground of disability in matters such as employment, promotion, career development and enjoying fruits of his employment. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, including necessary assistive aids and equipment, to enable persons with disabilities to perform their duties. The terms and conditions of employment for persons with disabilities should not be less favorable than those offered to other persons appointed against the same or similar positions.

Equity in Health and Medical Rehabilitation Services: the act aims to ensure that persons with disabilities have barrier-free access to necessary public health services and infrastructure without any discrimination and at no cost to such persons. The government will encourage private sector health service providers to offer quality services to persons with disabilities at 50% concessional rates. Special health services will be provided for early identification and intervention of disabilities, and medical services will be designed to prevent disabilities. The Council will devise plans to provide special health insurance to persons with disabilities to ensure free medical coverage for such persons.

Right to Accommodation: Act provides that persons with disabilities have the right to live independently in the community and be provided with necessary facilities by the government without discrimination. Every person with a disability has the right to a decent living place of their choice, and no one shall discriminate against them by refusing to rent or sell them a place of living due to their disability. The government should provide fair and affordable housing policies for persons with disabilities in both government and private housing schemes, including a 5% quota with 50% concession on the total cost payable on easy installments for those who don't own any property. The authorities approving the establishment of new housing schemes and plans shall ensure that a suitable number of affordable housing units are included.

Right to Home & Family: No person with disability, especially a child, adult or senior citizen, shall be separated from their family on the grounds of disability unless a court of law requires it in their best interest. If the immediate family of a person with disability, particularly a child with disabilities, is unable to care for them, the Court shall make an effort to place such persons in a setup suitable for their safe living.

All persons with disabilities have the right to marry a person of their own choice and raise their family without discrimination. No person with disability shall be subjected to any medical procedure leading to infertility, and forced sterilization shall be a non-compoundable offense.

Freedom Expression and Right for Political Participation: The act provides that the government must ensure that persons with disabilities have full and equitable rights regarding freedom of speech, expression, and information, and necessary measures shall be taken to ensure that their rights are enjoyed. The act ensures that persons with disabilities have the right to participate in political activities, including voting and running for an elected position. The Election Commission of Pakistan is responsible for ensuring that polling stations are accessible for persons with disabilities and arrangements are made for them to vote confidentially.

Special Courts: The act provides that for speedy justice the government shall designate Special Disability Courts to hear cases under this law or other laws in which one or more parties are Persons with Disabilities. There shall be an effective institutionalized mechanism to monitor such cases by appropriate judicial forum

Functions of the Council: There shall be restructuring and renaming of the Provincial Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons to an autonomous body shall be called as Provincial Council for the Rights of Persons with disabilities.

The Council has a wide range of responsibilities, including implementing and enforcing the objectives of the Act, coordinating with provincial and local governments to develop legal frameworks and policies, conducting research on disability-related issues, monitoring and evaluating the performance of various entities, including private and community-based organizations, and addressing individual and collective complaints of human rights violations against persons with disabilities. The Council also has the authority to enforce institutional mechanisms for effective and transparent functions of organizations, as well as impose restrictions on those that do not meet objective criteria.