In the instant appeal, the Appellant has sought access to policy “to remove access barriers at the work place so that the officers with different disabilities could perform their official duties on equal basis with others”, those official duties include, inter alia, getting ‘access to official records in the performance of the official duties. Furthermore, ‘access’ needs of persons with disabilities are characterized by the nature of their different disabilities and can only be ensured through reasonable accommodations clearly spelled out in a legally binding policy document.
the Respondent informally shared the draft ‘Disability Index’ aimed at formulating policy guidelines to facilitate rights of persons with disabilities demonstrates that the Respondent is moving from ‘discretionary measures’ approach to adopt a legal and rights based inclusive approach to provide enabling environment to officers with disabilities so that they could perform their official functions on equal basis with others, including the right of access to information/records.
While the draft ‘Disability Index’ is a step in the right direction and shows the intent and efforts of the Respondent MoFA to provide enabling environment to its officers and staff with disabilities, a cursory analysis of both its language and the content highlights the need to involve input from officers and staff with disabilities and those officers of the Respondent who have extensive experience of working on human rights issues as the language and content both are in contravention of domestic legal and policy obligations and international commitments.
Moreover, a ‘Disability Index’ cannot replace a formal legally binding policy document formulated in line with domestic laws and policies and international commitments.