Free legal aid helps people with disabilities understand their rights

Nguyen Thi Binh, a blind legal consulting officer is providing legal aid for the people with disabilities in Ha Giang province. Photo: Phan Huong Giang/UNDP Viet Nam

Last November, Viet Nam took a major step forward in ratifying Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, although many people with disabilities still lack understanding of their entitlements and rights. To provide a practical solution, UNDP has partnered with Disabled People’s Organizations to provide a series of legal aid consultations in different regions of Viet Nam.

Highlights

  • Viet Nam took a major step forward in ratifying Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, although many people with disabilities still lack understanding of their entitlements and rights.
  • Over the past 10 months, five legal aid consultations have been organized and this innovative UN and UNDP initiative has already provided more than 300 people with disabilities with the advice they need.

 “I came to ask about the social assistance policy for my nephew who has a disability” said Vu Van Tuoi sitting on his wheel chair. “I don’t know why has taken so long but for the past four years I’ve been trying to contact the district and commune offices. Now after this consultation, I know exactly what to do.”

Tuoi’s story highlights the lengthy struggles that many families living with disabilities endure. For example by not being able to access social assistance many people with disabilities disadvantage and struggle to reach their full potential.
 
“People with disabilities face a lot of difficulties, especially in access to legal services. There are many articles, newspapers and communication channels about land, criminal and marriage laws, but the media does not give much coverage to disabilities laws. Therefore, they do not know their rights and how they should claim their rights” says Nguyen Thi Binh, a blind legal consulting officer of ACDC.

This is the first time that free legal aid has been provided for people with disabilities in Ha Giang. Over a period of 02 days nearly 100 people from Ha Giang City and Vi Xuyen District came to consult with the seven lawyers and legal consulting officers available.

Thu from Vi Xuyen District has impaired mobility. She is currently chairwoman of the district’s association of people with disabilities and a member of a cooperative for disabled tailors established last year. She came to the consultation because they had experienced difficultly accessing the loan they needed to make their business a success.

“Today is the first time that we received legal advice. At the moment we depend on our families for everything but of course we want to be self-sufficient. In trying to access finance we went to many offices to ask for advice but they said that we needed to have collateral without explaining how and why.”

Over the past 10 months, five legal aid consultations have been organized in partnership with the Action to the Community Development Center (ACDC). This innovative UN and UNDP initiative has already provided more than 300 people with disabilities with the advice they need.

ACDC director Nguyen Thi Lan Anh is very enthusiastic about the impact of the project. “Legal access for people with disabilities is still very new in Viet Nam. Thanks to the technical and financial support from UNDP, we have provided free legal aid consultation for the people with disabilities across the country. Our experts have been able to provide the right legal advice and solutions for their most pressing concerns”.

After the trip, legal experts will contact Tuoi, Thu and up to 100 disable people to provide more guidance and follow-up to ensure that they are able to access their rights.  

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