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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/7

In any event, the Commission, which opened an own initiative case on the issue, will ensure the
observance of Community law within the limits conferred on it by the EC Treaty. Should the Commission
be informed that Community law is being breached in the specific case, it would not hesitate, as the
guardian of the EC Treaty, to take all necessary measures, including infringement procedures under
Article 226 of the EC Treaty, in order to ensure the observance of relevant Community law.

(2003/C 110 E/006) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0968/02

by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission

(10 April 2002)

Subject: Disability rights

The World Bank estimates that disabled people account for 20 % of the world’s poorest. If the Commission
is to make real long-term progress towards the International Development Target of halving world poverty
by 2015, it is essential that disabled people are fully included in all poverty reduction strategies.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly recently passed a resolution on the rights of the disabled people
and older people in ACP countries. What is the Commission doing to ensure that the rights of disabled
people in Asia are promoted as an integral part of all poverty reduction programmes?

Answer given by Mr Nielson on behalf of the Commission

(14 May 2002)

The African, Caribbean and Pacific States  European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly
recently passed a resolution on the rights of disabled people in ACP countries. Those recommendations
can equally be applied to disabled people in Asia.

Disability must be mainstreamed into all Community development work in poor countries to better
integrate the disabled into society. New approaches at the country level such as poverty reduction strategy
processes are increasing the voice and participation of civil society groups, including those that represent
the disabled, in the development of national policies.

The Commission sees social policies that improve access to, and quality of, basic social infrastructure and
services (health and education in particular) as the most effective way to address specific demands of the
most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Action to reduce poverty, the core objective of Community
development assistance, will prevent disability. The Commission will continue to provide substantial
support to the social sectors and will maximise opportunities to link prevention of disability to
rehabilitation and empowerment of the disabled.

Examples of activities in Asia include the Bangladesh Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative
Programme (NIP) which mentions children with disabilities explicitly under education.

In India, EUR 150 million have been channelled into the Government’s District Primary Education
Programme (DPEP), among others to support pilot initiatives aimed at improving access to elementary
education for children with disabilities. The PESLE programme (Programme for Enrichment of School Level
Education), in collaboration with the Aga Kahn Foundation, is tasked to do the same in the non-formal
sector (Union contribution EUR 11 million).

In Cambodia, the Commission is in the process of designing a programme to enhance accessibility,

adequacy and affordability of quality basic education to children and young people from particularly poor
and excluded sections of the population  this will include special attention for children with disabilities.
C 110 E/8 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.2003

Through its Education Sector Strategic Plan, which forms the basis for the planning and financing of the
education services, the Ministry of Education is committed to address both the issue of disabled school
children and recruitment of disabled persons as Ministry staff.

Children, particularly the poorest amongst them, are a natural target group for Commission health
interventions in Asia, for example in India, where Commission supports the Health and Family Welfare
Programme. As far as children with disabilities are concerned, the Commission concentrates on prevention
through supporting immunisation, e.g. EPI (Expanded Programme of Immunisation) Programmes in
Bangladesh) and, more specifically, polio eradication programmes.

The rights of disabled people in Cambodia have been of particular concern to the Commission. The
amputation prevalence rate in Cambodia is among the highest in the world (1 in 236 persons). Although
the number of accidents decreases, landmines and unexploded ordnance continue to pose a major threat to
the population, in particular in poor and remote areas.

In terms of prevention, the Commission has funded a large number of de-mining operations. It has also
supported the institutional strengthening of the national authorities in charge of the mine action sector.
Further support is scheduled in the National Indicative Programme 2002-2004.

The Commission is also actively supporting the work of non-governmental organisations, such as
Handicap International, which are directly involved with the physical and socio-economic rehabilitation of
persons with disabilities, with strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Social Affairs and other
organisations to provide services to people with disabilities.

A large number of programmes funded by the Commission also support the rehabilitation and
development of the public health services, thereby contributing to the prevention and treatment of various
forms of disabilities.

The Commission will continue to fund the work of organisations that support the disabled with a focus on
capacity building and organisational development of southern organisations. The focus will be to increase
their input into development programming, to raise their profile, reduce stigma and increase awareness.
The involvement of disabled people in all phases of any programme designed to benefit them will be

The Commission will circulate a guidance note to all country offices on disability and how to best
incorporate the needs of the disabled into future programming.

(2003/C 110 E/007) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1029/02

by Anna Karamanou (PSE) to the Commission

(15 April 2002)

Subject: Tragic death of 14 girls in Saudi Arabia

The newspaper, Arab News; and Amnesty International report that 14 girls lost their lives and dozens of
others were injured in a fire at their school in Mecca on 11 March 2002 when the religious police
(Muttawah) prevented them from fleeing the fire because they were not wearing headscarves and no male
relatives were present to collect them. Furthermore, the religious police prevented rescue teams from
entering the school as men are not allowed to mix with women. This tragic event is a stark illustration of
the appalling effects of gender discrimination on human life. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is a party to the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Will the Commission exert pressure on the government of Saudi Arabia to launch an investigation as a
matter of urgency into these tragic deaths and bring those responsible to justice to prevent similar
occurrences in the future? Will the Commission make representations to the Saudi Government to put an
end to the policies and practices which devalue the lives of women and perpetuate discrimination against