The Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) has reminded the government to honour its promise of revising the Disability Act in line with international standards and address the discrimination against persons with disability.
The Federation noted that had been more than a year since the Government promised at the 68th United Nations (UN) General Assembly to review Ghana’s Persons with Disability A ct (Act 715, 2006), but nothing had been done.
Mr Isaac Tuggun, Focal Person of the Federation said this in a statement made available to the Ghana News Agency, over the weekend.
The Federation quoted the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, as saying at the 68th UN General Assembly in September 2013, that: “Government is reviewing the provisions of Persons with Disability Act 715 to realign it with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.
According to the Federation, the Minister stated that the realignment was to “harmonise Ghana’s obligations under both local and International Law and that “a Legislative Instrument to promote the effective implementation of the Act has subsequently been drafted”.
The Federation said it described then described the promise as “good news and heart-warming information for persons with disability and organizations of Persons with Disability (PWDs) who found the Act to be woefully inadequate, and skewed, with ambiguous and discretionary provisions.”
“Unfortunately, PWDs’ hope and expectations have been short lived,” said the GFD.
“Despite the fact that GFD has produced and submitted a gap analysis report to the Government, through the Ministry of Gender, children and Social Protection, as its contribution to fast-track the review process of the Act, nothing has been done about the said review, after a year now,” it added.
It said an appropriate Legislative Instrument for the effective implementation of an Act could be best drafted after the Act had been reviewed and not while the Act was still being reviewed.
The Persons with Disability Act 715 came into effect in 2006, which preceded the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDs, which Ghana voluntarily signed in 2007 and ratified in 2012.
The United Nations Convention of Disability (CRPD), now part of the body of legislations in Ghana, in Article 4(b) under the general obligations, enjoins state parties to the Convention to harmonize their domestic legislations with the convention.
The GFD said the harmonization would eliminate the difficulties and confusion arising in the application of the two pro-disability legislations, with the same objectives, but which differed greatly from each other in context, enjoinments, and scope.
It said, though disability is an evolving concept, Act 715 had a close definition of a person with disability while the CRPD had an open definition to permit the inclusion of emerging categories of disability.
The GFD noted that CRPD recognized the different needs of women and children with disability and thus provided for them separately, but Act 715 lumped women, children, and men together as PWDs who had common challenges and common needs.
It also said the CRPD provided for political participation of and special needs for PWDs in national disaster management, however, Act 715 was silent on these issues.
“Act 715 has cursory provisions some of which are ambiguous while the CRPD has detailed and clear provisions,” the Federation said.
It said while CRPD promoted inclusive education at all levels, Act 715 prescribed the designation of schools or institutions in each region to provide facilities and equipment to enable PWDs to participate in education, thus limiting the opportunities of PWDs to participate in education.
“This is discriminatory, health care and employment provisions in Act 715 also suffer similar limitations,” it said.
“While the CRPD enjoins close consultation and active involvement of PWDs in decision-making processes, Act 715 prescribes nothing on the matter,” GFD added.
The Federation warned that given the amendment of the Act was an international requirement, and Ghana as a party to the CRPD, Ghana would suffer a “dented international image by signing and ratifying an international instrument only to violate its provision.”
The GFD, therefore, called on all relevant stakeholders to take keen interest in the promise by the government to review Act 715 so that together they could create the right legal environment to improve the disability situation in the country. GNA