CDD Commends Parliament, Others for Progress On Disability Bill
THE CENTRE for Democratic Governance (CDD) has expressed joy at the strides parliament has made towards the passage of the Disability Bill aimed at promoting equality between Persons with Disability (PWD) and persons without.
According to a Constitutional and Legal Policy Fellow of the CDD, Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei Atua, "the extension of constitutional protection to an enshrined right gives an indication of the seriousness of parliament to provide an absolute minimum standard for the respect of particular rights."
He noted that after almost fourteen years of unrequited recognition of the constitutional rights of PWD, the disability bill was likely to be approved by parliament at the end of this week to secure the enjoyment of the rights of the about two million PWD in the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, he stressed that the passage of the bill would further ensure that PWD could exercise their rights not on the sympathy and goodwill of society, but based on binding instructions of the instrument of law.
Dr. Appiagyei stated that the bill was a crucial step in protecting the rights of PWD as guaranteed under the constitution, and commended the framers of the constitution for making room for the recognition of the rights of PWD.
"Not only that, but also mandating parliament under Article 29(8) of the constitution to enact such laws as are necessary to ensure the enforcement of the provisions of this article," he added.
He however expressed regret that such provisions in the constitution had not been transformed into well articulated and designed programmes to change the fortunes of PWD, saying, "the absence of such legislation has provided a serious setback in putting the proper structures in place to facilitate disability activism."
Dr. Appiagyei, who is also a lecturer at the law faculty of the University of Ghana, said the CDD considered the bill as one of human rights issue that needed due recognition, hence their decision among that of constitutional law and other experts, to submit a detailed memorandum to the Parliamentary Committee on Employment, social Welfare and State Enterprises Committee for consideration into the bill.
This, he noted, was in support of other amendments proposed by the committee itself to further highlight important issues, whose implementation would lead to substantial reduction in the barriers that PWD usually face.
According to the university lecturer, the Parliamentary Committee would be considering among others the provision of free basic education for all PWD, as well as special support and facilities for them up to tertiary level. There is also the need for extension of incentive and support for employers to employ PWD, take others on as apprentices and design adverts that would also target PWD.
Also under consideration is the issue of definition of discrimination as proposed by the CDD, as basis for the enactment of the law, as well as the need for recognition of affirmative action as foundation for the promotion of disability rights in Ghana.
On the issue of gender-dimension in the bill, the CDD noted, "We need not lose sight of the fact that females face discrimination on the basis of their gender as well as on the basis of their disability," adding, "therefore the act has to address the gender dimension and make sure that it will not only promote formal gender equality, but also gender equality through affirmative action among PWD."
Furthermore, Dr. Appiagyei mentioned some of the provisions that the CDD finds offensive and a set back to the intent and purpose of the bill as criminalizing the making of derogatory remarks against PWD.
"We feel this is appropriate in view of the fact that this issue should be addressed through public education and sensitivity training and not the use of criminal law powers."
In conclusion, he commended all stakeholders, particularly government, the Parliamentary Committee and the general public for their various inputs to make the passage of the bill a reality, He appealed to the media to highlight the issue of implementation upon its passage for maximum compliance by all, especially the private sector.
Source: Ghanaian Chronicle