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DPO’s Calls on Government to Fast-Track Disability Bill

DPO’s Calls on Government to Fast-Track Disability Bill

Disabled Persons Organization (DPO) has called on Government to fast-track a Bill titled: ‘Persons with Disability Act 2010.’

Sierra Leone’s disabled person’s organization said the bill has not been treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves.

“The government of Sierra Leone should do more to domesticate and implement the convention,” says the President of DPO.

According to the Secretary General of Sierra Leone Union of Disability Issues, Mohamed Bangali Mansaray, the process of disability started in 2004.

He said the issue was raised in 2007 and in 2008, a National Consultative Conference was held on December 4, wherein stakeholders validated the 2007 draft and tendered recommendations to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.

He disclosed that on 15 July 2010, the draft was gazetted. A member of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Human rights, Hon Kofi, promised Parliament will commence discussion on the bill shortly.

In commemoration of International Day for the Blind, members of Parliament that witnessed the ceremony at the conference hall of Ministry of Social Welfare promised they will make reasonable efforts to seeing the bill passed in Parliament before December 3 which is International Day of the Disabled.

The Executive Director of the Disabled Rights movement, Vandy A. Konneh, said the ratification of the UN Convention makes it essential for Government and non-governmental agencies to mainstream disability issues in their strategic and development plans. He called on government and the private sector showcase the implementation of the United Nations Convention and to speed up the domestication of the Disability Act in Sierra Leone.

Quite recently the DPOs became so frustrated; the called a Press Conference on the anniversary of the signing of the Bill, seeking answers from the Duty Bearers for reasons behind the delay in enacting the Bill. According to the organizations, the situation of the persons with Disabilities is becoming more and more difficult and the government was seen to be dealing very lightly with the issue, thereby missing out on a bundle on international development incentives for persons with Disabilities.

The DPO’s also accused Sierra Leone’s development partners including the World Bank, UNDP, European Union, DFID, IMF and NGOs of failing remarkablyto recognize disability as an issue in development; “their grand policies are seen to be discriminatory and do not make any provisions for Persons with Disability in this country”. They said Persons with Disabilities represent 10 percent of the world’s population and 8 out of 10 persons with dsabilities live in developing countries where conflicts and poverty constantly put their quality of life in jeopardy.

DPOs stated that they need action not words on the disability bill. The DPOs are calling on the government to hang heads with its development partners to know the public’s agenda or their position disability in the country especially the international donor committee and private sector organizations including the mobile phone companies. What are their Corporate Social Responsibilities towards people with disability?

Sierra Leone ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons wit Disability (UNCRPD) on 28 July 2009. The UNCRPD was adopted on 13 December 2009 and entered into force on 03 May 2008. This human rights law represents a significant step towards addressing the poverty, social exclusion and discrimination faced by Persons with Disabilities worldwide. The Convention does not create new rights, rather it re-affirms existing rights in the context of disability, to ensure that Persons With Disabilities can equally access all of their fundamental rights stated in previous conventions.

They said the country has a responsibility to adhere to the provisions made in the Convention and must make a special commitment to implement the UNCRPD. One of the leading agencies working with Persons with Disabilities in Sierra Leone is Handicap International (HI), co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, the organization works alongside Persons With Disabilities, providing them assistance and support in their efforts to become self-reliant. HI’s work is grounded on human rights principles, believing that the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings is equal and must be respected without distinction and regardless of their ability.

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