Qatar ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on May 13 2008, and has signed its Optional Protocol, pending ratification.

All persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity aim the CRPD at promoting the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Optional Protocol (OP) establishes a complaints mechanism. The CRPD creates no new rights for the individuals, but makes it possible the full exercise of human rights to all. Complying with the CRPD requires the states to introduce numerous adjustments to their internal legislation.

The study of high significance for Qatar. At any rate, Qatar has being doing significant efforts, and major progress in catering to the needs of people with disabilities. Already in 1995, Qatar issued the Law No. 38/1995, on aspects of the Social Security system, providing governmental assistance to social groups, including organizations of persons with disabilities. In the 1998, Qatar created the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA, Decree No. 53/1998), a high-level national body that among other things has the mandate to deal with the implementation of those international conventions related to the rights of children, women, and persons with disabilities which has been ratified by Qatar. Following the SCFA's recommendations, Qatar passed in 2004, Qatar passed the Law No. 2/2004, for the protection of people with special needs, which ensures the rights of persons with disabilities in all fields.

According to that law, the people with special needs enjoy special protection in the State of Qatar, by means of:

 - Special education, health treatment, disease prevention and vocational training;

 - Receiving all the tools and means to facilitate their learning and mobility process;

 - Receiving special qualifications and training certificates upon completion of certain training programs and appoint them in areas that would accommodate their obtained skills and training;

 - Dedicating around 2% of the jobs in the private sector to people with special needs without any discrimination based on disability.

Nevertheless, the implementation of these efforts is till a work in progress. A United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability, reported after a brief mission in Qatar that there is “a clear commitment from Qatari society to the needs of persons with disabilities”, which are tangible at Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs and at Al Noor Institute for the Blind. The rapporteur stressed that “”it appears that there is a clear commitment from the State and the private sector toward the issues confronting persons with disabilities in Qatar. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the private sector is a big contributor to institutions [for people with disabilities]”. Nevertheless, the rapporteur warned that “it also became clear that much of the caring and development remain almost exclusively disability-specific as opposed to the mainstreaming of the development needs of persons with disabilities. There appears to be a distinct lack of mainstreaming of disability in Qatar”[1].

In 2010, the International Disability Alliance, the global network aimed at promoting the effective and full implementation of the CRPD, recommended that “Qatar adopt a proactive and comprehensive strategy to eliminate de jure and de facto discrimination on any grounds and against all children, paying particular attention to girls, children with disabilities”[2]

The significance of this project comprehends several facets. This project is aimed at helping fulfill Qatar's commitment as requested by the CRPD. Beyond that, and above all, this project would have the direct potential to yield tangible benefits for people with disabilities in Qatar, by helping remove barriers that may prevent their full integration into mainstream society might made harder their personal and professional development. Moreover, this project should help the people with disabilities to become visible in Qatar.

The objectives of the proposed study are:

 To analyze the impact that the ratification of the CRPD has on the Qatari legal system;

 To elaborate a general framework aimed at defining possible ways in which the Qatari legal system could better develop the mandates of the CRPD;

 To elaborate recommendations about possible modifications to the internal Qatari legislation in order to specifically incorporate the mandates of the CRPD into the law of the country.

According to the Census 2010, carried out by the Qatari Statistics Authority, the total number of people with disabilities in Qatar is 7,743, which represents 0.45% of the total population of 1,699,435 inhabitants. Among non-Qataris, the percentage of people with disabilities is of a 0.28%, while among Qatari nationals the figure is six times higher, 1,71%, with 2972 persons with disabilities on a population of 174,279. All these numbers appear as significantly low by international standards, where people with disabilities compose around 10% of the population. Some phenomena could help explain these numbers, though [3].

The significantly low number of non-Qataris with disabilities can be explained by the fact that that group of population are mostly young, healthy workers who come to the country with a work contract, and after having passed medical tests of aptitude for the position. The disability among Qataris would, thus, reflect better the natural rate of disability in the country. However, this rate is still too low for international standards. The causes to this low number could be multiple. First, it may show that in Qatar there is not yet a full awareness about what constitutes a disability, and thus people do not declare themselves–or declare family members–as disabled. Second, it is possible that the tightly knitted family structure provides for the disabled, and thus little or no support is requested for outside the family, causing a considerable under-registration of cases of disabilities, since the disabled do not reach out for specific social or health services. Third, it is also possible that despite all efforts, Qatar still has a relatively poor network of services aimed at satisfying the needs of the disabled, who that way go under-detected in the official statistics. At any rate, the numbers show that there is significant room in Qatar for the development of strategies aimed at raising awareness and implementing programs and services for the disabled.

In that sense, this project might produce very valuable information, and propose high-impact measures to further the protection that Qatar provides to people with disabilities. This project should have, thus, a critical significance to people with disabilities in Qatar, and also to their families.

The Qatari population at large would benefit from this project, since it is ultimately aimed at helping integrate a group of people–the disabled–whose contribution to the country's human capital can be of extreme value, in a context of a growingly complex, diverse global society.

Finally, this project can become a valuable tool to help reaffirm Qatar's leadership in the region in matters of human rights and human development.

[1] Report of the Special Rapporteur's Mission to Qatar - Preliminary Observations (9 – 13 March 2010). http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/specialrapporteur/qatar_2010.doc

[2] IDA CRPD FORUM Suggestions for disability-relevant recommendations 7th UPR Working group session (8 to 19 February 2010). http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/sites/disalliance.e-presentaciones.net/files/public/files/UPR-7th-session-Recommendations-from-IDA.doc

[3] Qatar Statistics Authority. Census 2010. http://www.qix.gov.qa


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