Legal environment in partnering nations - Lebanon

lebanon overview

Historical background

In 1987, the disability movement was launched by a group of persons with disabilities who crossed the country from north to south in a protest march against the war and continual violence. The success of this movement raised disability to the level of a cause; and disabled people's organizations (DPO) gained a place within the civil discourse and organizations. The first political move towards disability rights took place in 1993 when the Council of Ministers agreed to form the first National Committee for the Disabled. In 1994, efforts of the National Committee led to the establishment of the first national program for the disabled in Lebanon entitled "Rights and Access", currently an integral part of MSA. “Rights and Access” reshaped the relationship between the society and disabled people, changing it from one based on charity to one based on rights. The highlight of the committee was the preparation of a new law on disability. In 2000, DPOs succeeded in negotiating with the government to pass Law 2020/2000, a comprehensive, rights-based law on disability.

Laws and regulations

The Law 220/2000 aims at improving the livelihood conditions of people with disabilities in Lebanon. It includes 10 parts targeting all sectors:
Part 1&2: The National Committee of the Disabled is the permanent decision-making body consisting of 4 representatives of each of the following groups: persons with disabilities, associations of persons with disabilities, institutions that offer services to persons with disabilities and the MSA. The members of the National Committee are elected once every three years. The MSA is the executive tool for the National Committee. 
Part 3: The right of persons with disabilities to receive health, rehabilitation, and support services. Every disabled person has the right to benefit fully from the health, rehabilitation, and support services from the departments and institutions that secure it. Expenses will be covered by the government. 
Part 4: The right of persons with disabilities to benefit from a rehabilitated environment. All the buildings, infrastructures, public and private institutions for public use should conform to the criteria and conditions stated in this law and that enables a rehabilitated environment for persons with disabilities. Criteria will be approved by the MSA, after consultation with the National Committee for the Disabled. The building code will be amended in accordance with approved standards. Additional standards should be guaranteed for persons with disabilities expressing specific needs of mobility outside and inside buildings. Certain exemptions related to accomplishing the accessibility in public and private buildings are available. These exemptions could be granted to the municipalities and the individuals. It includes exemptions from the taxes on real estates in addition to exemptions from building license’s fees and discount on rent taxes on the rent by an average of 25%. 
Part 5: The right of the person with disabilities to circulate, have a parking lot, and a driving license. The Ministry of Transportation, or any other institution, secures buses equipped to enable persons with disabilities to use them, according to the international safety criteria. The ministry should equip every new public bus as per previously mentioned criteria. Furthermore, the law states that persons with disabilities and one personal guide, shall access the public means of transportation for free, and the guide will benefit from 50% discount from the plane or ship tickets in case the state has any portion in the company. 
Part 6: The right of the person with disabilities to have a secure house in the public and private residence projects. Equipped houses should be secured in residence projects done by the government or any public party. 
Part 7: The right of the person with disabilities to education and sports. The law guarantees equal opportunities in education and learning for all persons with disabilities, children and adults, in all schools and educational institutions in regular and special classes if necessary. 
Part 8: The right of the persons with disabilities to employment. Employers in both the private and public sectors should have 3% of their employees as persons with disabilities. In case of unemployment, the person with disabilities can refer to the article concerning the unemployment indemnity. Article 61 states that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports shall cover the expenses of special education and vocational rehabilitation of persons with disabilities through contracts drafted between the related ministries and the special education centers/institutes as well as the rehabilitation centers. 
Part 9: The right of the disabled person to special tax provisions. The educational and medical equipment, the support tools, as well as the special equipments for persons with disabilities will be exempted from custom fees as well as all the export fees and other taxes. 
Part 10: The right of persons with disabilities to social services. Persons and institutions that cause the disability to others should pay the indemnities to the MSA. 
Though Law 220/2000 provides important guidelines and principles for the protection of persons with disabilities and the full exercise of their rights, it makes no mention of the mechanisms for its implementation and consequent reform requirements.

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