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The Equal Opportunities Commission issues statement on reports of a person with hearing impairment having been sent to a psychiatric hospital due to communication barriers

09/02/2017

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has issued the following statement with regard to news reports today (9 February 2017) on claims that a person with hearing impairment was sent to a psychiatric hospital in the absence of sign language interpretation, which caused him communication difficulty and misunderstanding by the Police:

The EOC is highly concerned about the incident. We urge the person involved to contact us directly and we would do our utmost to provide assistance. The EOC also welcomes enquiries from the public on legal protection from discrimination for people with disabilities (PWDs) under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO). 

•  While the EOC currently does not have on hand detailed information of the case, the Commission believes people with hearing impairments and other forms of disabilities should have equal opportunities to participate in all areas of society, including education, employment and access to services and facilities. 

•  The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006. Under the convention, States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for PWDs, and appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided in order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination. In 2008, the People’s Republic of China ratified the convention and was extended to Hong Kong at the same time. Therefore, Government departments have a legal duty to ensure all PWDs, including those with hearing impairments, are not discriminated against when accessing services and facilities. Government departments also have a responsibility to provide appropriate communication methods and assistance, such as sign language interpretation, for people with hearing impairments. The EOC hopes relevant departments can follow up on the case as soon as possible, and make improvements if necessary, to prevent similar incidents in the future.

For enquiries, please contact Mr. Sam HO at 2106-2187 or Mr. Owen FUNG at 2106-2284.


Equal Opportunities Commission
9 February 2017

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