Thailand has a population of 67,959,000 people (UNESCAP 2015), and UNESCAP report 2015 indicated that a total of 2.2%, there are an estimated minimum of 1,478,662 people with disabilities living in Thailand.
The Department for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, has collected gender-specific data of persons with disabilities by registration method in order to analyze economic status in relation to the gender of persons with disabilities so that the Office may further assess the needs of women with disabilities on an equal basis with their male counterparts. As of March 2015, there are 893,070 (58.6%) male and 630,939 (41.4%) female persons with disabilities who have registered with the Ministry for financial aid and interest-free loans. Regarding children with disabilities, as of June 2010, there are 116,468 registered children with disabilities, of which 57,751 are boys and 58,747 are girls.
Thailand has ratified the CRPD since 29 July 2008 and it entry into force on 28 August 2008. It is noticeable that until now Thailand has not become a state party of the OP-CRPD yet. The beneficiaries of the OP-CRPD are persons with disabilities if Thailand is a contracting party. They may submit complaints to the Committee under the CRPD especially the violations which are caused by the unfair justice or in the case of the persons with disabilities don’t agree with the interpretation or legal reasoning under the domestic legal mechanism to protection of human rights of persons with disabilities (Minutes to understanding about OP-CRPD at Prince Palace Hotel Bangkok, 2012).
Thailand has some of the Human Rights treaties, International Covenant on Economic: Social and Cultural Rights accession in (5 Sep 1999), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights accession in (29 Oct 1966), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination accession in (28 Jan 2003), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women accession in (9 Aug 1985), Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women ratification in (14 Jun 2000), Convention on the Rights of the Child accession in (27 Mar 1992).
The Government of Thailand has adopted and implemented a number of laws, Cabinet resolutions, regulations and policies pertaining to people with disabilities, including their right to productive and decent work and to basic services, workers’ compensation, social security and entrepreneurship development. The main ones are listed below.
• The Thai Constitution, adopted in 1997 and amended in 2007, contains anti-discrimination provisions based on physical or health conditions and guarantees accessibility to social welfare and services for persons with disabilities.
• The Persons with Disabilities’ Quality of Life Promotion Act B.E. 2550 (2007) is a comprehensive rights-based law for persons with disabilities and contains an anti- discrimination component. It repeals the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act A.D.1991 (B.E.2534), which was the first law on disability in Thailand. The new Act establishes the National Commission for Promotion and Development of Disabled Persons’ Life Quality, which replaces the Office of the Committee for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons. It also establishes an Office to implement recommendations of the Commission, and a fund to be managed by the Office for the rehabilitation of disabled persons.
• The National Persons with Disabilities’ Quality of Life Development Plan (Volume III) B.E. 2550–2554 (2007–2011), provides guidance for disability development practice for all authorities concerned.
• The Persons with Disabilities Education Act B.E 2551 (2008), promotes fairness of access to education and vocational training for all disadvantaged groups.
Presenting the report, Maitri Inthusut, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, explained that the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act 2007 had reflected a major transformation of perspectives on persons with disabilities in Thailand, from a charity-based to a rights-based paradigm. That act had been revised in 2013 to introduce new key policies and infrastructures, such as Community-Based Rehabilitation, disability service centres and anti-discrimination mechanisms. It was imperative for the Government to expand the coverage of disability services in order to reach persons with disabilities living in remote areas. Thailand faced important challenges with regard to achieving significant inclusive education. Multi-sectoral discrimination also remained an issue, and the Government would redouble its efforts to eliminate negative stereotypes and stigma against persons with disabilities.
The primary goal of the ILO today is to promote opportunities for everyone, including people with disabilities, to obtain decent and productive work, based on the principles of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. The ILO works to achieve its goals of decent work for all through promoting labour standards, advocacy, knowledge building and technical cooperation services and partnerships, both within the ILO and externally. A Thai Decent Work Country Programme is currently being formulated (May 2009). It will establish the framework for ILO action towards achieving decent work goals.
In Thailand, a current ILO technical cooperation project on disability is “Promoting the Employability and Employment of People with Disabilities through Effective Legislation” (PEPDEL). Earlier phases of PEPDEL included the compilation of a country study on employment and training policies and practices which contributed to the building of a knowledge base on people with disabilities and to the sharing of examples of good practice; identification of priority and needs in consultation with government, representatives of workers’ and employers’ groups and disabled persons’ organizations; support for the Review Group established to revise the Thai Rehabilitation Law of 1991, including arrangements for specialist commentary on the Persons with Disabilities’ Quality of Life Promotion Act at the draft stage; and development and pilot testing of a training curriculum on disability legislation, policies and their implementation at Ratchasuda College at Mahidol University.
Since the later part of the 20th century Thailand has hosted countless refugees fleeing violence and political oppression in neighboring countries. Handicap International was founded in in Thailand in 1982, to help refugees living in camps along the Cambodian borders. Since 1984, Handicap International has operated along the border with Myanmar to meet the needs of refugees. There are currently estimated to be more than 111,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand. Due to political changes in Myanmar the populations of these camps has been declining steadily since 2011, but huge numbers of landmines on the Thai-Myanmar border present a serious obstacle to repatriation.
The organization works with agencies in the camps to make sure that people with disabilities have full access to work, education, and health services. This is achieved by supporting agencies to remove physical and attitudinal barriers, which prevent access. The project also empowers people with disabilities through self-help groups to enable them to participate more actively in camp decision-making process.
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