The 2014 Cambodia Demographic Health Survey established that “9.5% of the Cambodian population experience at least some degree of difficulty in performing basic functions and 2.1% experience at least a lot of difficulty and cannot do at all in performing basic functions.” Persons with disabilities in Cambodia face multiple challenges such as inequality and discrimination in access to education, healthcare, employment, services and they are particularly vulnerable to violence and other rights violations. There are also numerous limitations for redress in the formal legal system (inaccessible, costly, lack of awareness of duty bearers of their particular needs), and an absence of other grievance mechanisms, such as legal assistance. Particularly difficult is the situation of persons with disabilities, especially women, who are deaf (or have hearing impairment), blind or have intellectual disabilities. Numerous cases have been reported in which the existing legal system could not even provide minimal protection of their rights, particularly in cases involving serious crimes.
The United Nations (UN) have been supporting to promote the rights of persons with disabilities through the joint Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia (DRIC) programme since 2014. This new Joint Programme focuses on one of the major gaps of the DRIC programme: access to justice and accessible mechanisms to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including in detention.
The Programme will enhance the capacity of duty bearers to implement the UNCRPD on access to justice and services. This includes training judges, prosecutors, court clerks, lawyers, prison officials, DAC/MoSVY officials on their obligations vis à vis the UNCRPD; ensuring that specific actions on access to justice are included in the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP) 2019-2023; ensuring persons with disabilities have access to legal aid; and piloting grievance mechanisms in three provinces – Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces. The programme also seeks to enhance the disability network’s capacity to advance the rights of persons with disabilities and assist them in seeking justice, including through strengthened engagement with local authorities.
KEY EXPECTED RESULTS
The UN Joint Programme (UNDP and UNOHCHR) on Access to Justice Without Barriers for Persons with Disabilities (A2J) aims to increase and strengthen the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in Cambodia and expand the disability rights network, by focusing on two key deliverables:
 Capacity of RGC in implementing the UNCRPD in areas of access to justice and services enhanced.
 Capacity of disability rights networks in three pilot provinces enhanced to provide better services for persons with disabilities including assisting their members in seeking for justice to fulfill their rights.
The project was launched at the Disable People’s Organisation (DPO) network meeting with 90 participants (40 women) attended. The DPOs were very impressed and supportive to the project as it was their first time to engage in this area – they requested to expand the project geographical coverage to the areas where there are persons with disabilities facing multiple challenges such as social discrimination and limited access to legal aid service.
[a] Through continuous advocacy, the current draft of new National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP) for 2019-2023 includes access to justice for persons with disabilities in one of its strategic objectives.
[b] 16 cases of persons with disabilities were found to be experienced with different forms of abuses including in the context of employment, health service discrimination, sexual abuse and harassment, domestic violence and being lured to engage in drug smuggling. The cases related to verbal discrimination and domestic violence were resolved at the commune authority level, while the rest of the other cases have been pending at the provincial court. DPOs and PUC
UN development programme partners with people at all levels of society together with the legal aid NGOs are working to collect and analyse more data to have a better understanding of each case before proceeding further.
[c] Training need assessment was conducted with targeted provincial DPOs and persons with disabilities with regards the legal aid knowledge. The lesson plans and teaching materials has been prepared by PUC.
[d] A radio round table discussion “Your concern Our solution” with speakers from UNDP, UNOHCHR and CDPO was organized at the Voice of Persons with Disabilities radio station. A radio script under topic: Access to Justice without barriers for persons with disabilities had been produced and aired.
[e] Two trainings on UNCRPD were provided to the provincial DAC and DPOs with 150 participants (50 women) attended. The training was led by the DAC Secretariat in which demonstrated the ownership of the government in promoting disability rights as well as enhancing the UNCRPD implementation at the sub national level.