The Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD), has expressed worry over the continuous delay by the government to amend the country’s current Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715), to conform with international conventions.
This, it said, was hindering its implementation, adding that, the situation was derailing efforts at demanding for the rights of disabled persons, to enable them to participate fully as members of mainstream society.
Ghana in 2006, passed the Disability Act, (Act 715), to provide for the rights of disabled persons in accordance with Article 29 of the 1992 Constitution, to establish a National Council on Disabled Persons to attend to the interests of disabled persons and to provide for other related matters.
In 2007, the country also signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and became the 119th country in the world and 32nd in Africa when it ratified it in 2012, to protect the rights of disabled people and empower them for full social participation.
Speaking at a National Policy Dialogue on the Review of the Disability Act in Accra on Thursday, Mrs Rita Kusi Kyeremaa, the Executive Director of GFD said the Act, in its current state, was laden with challenges and therefore, not robust enough to stand the test of time, adding that, the Act was inconsistent with some provisions of the UN Convention.
Key among them, she said, were the exclusion of inclusive education, provisions on the rights of women with disabilities, provisions on rights of children with disabilities and safety, and security of persons with disabilities in humanitarian situations.
She, therefore, appealed to government and relevant stakeholders to show more commitment by stepping up their efforts to ensure that the Act was reviewed by the end of the year, to actualise its passage.
She said, “one key point in the Convention that called for the review of the act was the provision that enjoins state parties to review their existing laws that are not compliant with the provision of the convention.”
The dialogue was organised by the GFD in partnership with ActionAid Ghana.
Ms Mercy Larbi, Deputy Chair of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) said the Act since its passage had little impact in mitigating the plight of the disabled.
She explained that the failed establishment of rehabilitation centres in each of the now 16 administrative regions in the country to train disabled people and also facilitate their employment, coupled with the inability of the state to enact the Legislative Instrument for its implementation and the enforcement of the law in its current form were some challenges that had rendered the Act less effective.
She assured the organisation of the Commission’s commitment to ensure that the Act was revised to serve its intended purpose.
Mr John Nkaw, Head of Programmes, Campaigns, and Innovations at ActionAid Ghana also expressed the organisation’s commitment to working with the GFD and other disability rights organisations, to continue to strengthen their capacity in their advocacy activities.
He said as part of the organisation’s community empowerment commitment, it was currently implementing the “Building the Agency of Adolescent Girls and Young Women for Inclusive Leadership” programme.
The programme, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, Mr Nkaw said, was aimed at identifying daily challenges of the vulnerable in various communities and providing support and opportunities, to enable them to demand their rights, secure their rights and to ensure that they transformed power structures in their communities.
He called on the government to do more beyond the social interventions, especially in the era of COVID-19, to mitigate the plights of the vulnerable.