Despite a number of laws protecting people with disabilities, elections in Cambodia are not yet inclusive. This report identifies challenges, good practice and steps that Cambodia’s government, election administrators and civil society can take to protect the political rights of persons with disabilities. It calls for the NEC to address the challenges faced by person of disabilities accessing the vote by redesigning the voter registration process in Cambodia.
Qualitative methods were used for data collection, with desk-based research, key-informant interviews and focus group discussions. The research was conducted mostly in Phnom Penh with a few interviews conducted by email with representatives of Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) from the Philippines, Laos and Indonesia.
- Gaps in Cambodia’s legal framework: there are many legal frameworks that exist for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the electoral processes, yet gaps remain and there are issues around implementation.
- Requirements and process of voter registration: ambiguity of the terms in legal frameworks, acquiring an ID card and being unable to identify one’s disabilities in the voter registration process can exclude persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, as well as physical disabilities.
- Inaccessible registration posts: LPPRPD has only guaranteed an accessible environment in theory. Research suggests that this has not yet been realised, with interviewees identifying difficulties in physical access to registration posts.
- Lack of information: information is crucial to help people know when, where and how to register to vote. A lack of awareness among electoral officials and the disability community on the rights of people with disabilities can exacerbate this.
- Lack of support: social stigma is a fundamental barrier; there is a common perception that persons with disabilities are unable to fulfil their own needs.
- Within Cambodia: current legal frameworks and strong cooperation between the National Election Committee, DPOs, and other civil society organisations are beginning to influence changing electoral processes.
- Overseas: Liberian DPOs played a major role in drafting the national disability law; the Election Management Body in the Philippines formed an inter-agency and NGO advisory network to develop inclusive policy recommendations; information materials in Quebec were available in braille, large print, Quebec Sign Language and American Sign Language; in South Africa persons with disabilities were specifically targeted during voter registration campaigns.
- Legal mechanisms with specific reference to political inclusion of persons with disabilities
- Cooperation between the Ministry of the Interior, DPOs and the local police to facilitate people with disabilities can obtain a national ID card
- Data on persons’ disabilities should be collected on the voter registration form and recorded in the database so that steps can be taken to accommodate those who need assistance.
- Door-to-door campaigning and greater involvement of mass media can be used in voter education campaigns, and also to ensure that persons with disabilities are aware of their own rights.