Call for an inclusive disability protocol in Africa

Amid continued perplexity over the unrelenting chain of human oppression, internal conflicts, social fragmentation, economic dislocation, and human tragedies, the rights of persons living with disability are being violated in many African countries as they are subjected to marginalization and discrimination.

A good number of organizations that took part at the just concluded 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul are warning that the entire issue could become meaningless unless all African nations put their hands on deck and agree to an inclusive Disability Protocol.
A three-page statement, signed by organizations such as the South

African-based Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (SADPD), Sight Savers, Disabled Person’s Organizations (DPOs) and other disability persons actors or disability partners calls for the process to engage all of the forces that have a say on the issue. In fact, the communiqué, which was sent to JollofNews, decries attempts to sideline main stakeholders in the process of drafting a Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa that was prepared during the Expert Seminar on the Rights of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities in Africa, held in Accra, Ghana, during the course of August 2009.
“The communiqué is directed at the Commission and its internal organs whose mandate is to address issues on human rights of African citizens. More specifically it is designed to bring to the attention of the Commission the urgent need to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities according to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as all related African, and international protocols, charters, treaties and legal instruments,” reads the statement.

According to the signatories to the statement, the process of drafting the disability protocol was not sufficiently inclusive of the participation of expert opinions of persons with disabilities due to the prevailing focus on Older Persons rights and their consideration only at a later stage of consultation.
“As a result, this draft Protocol risks not being fully comprehensive in recognizing all of the rights to be benefited and owned by Persons with Disabilities,” The joint statement said.
IT went on to add that now is the time to take the necessary steps to ensure that the rights of persons with disability are not diluted or minimized because of insufficient collaboration arising out of their exclusion in the preliminary stages of the process of drafting a Disability Protocol.

Additionally, after underpinning the urgent need to implement and realize the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa, recommendations were made during the 48th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in Banjul. As such the Disability Partners recommended that the Working Group of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities consult with the disability movement in all matters pertaining to a Disability Protocol; ACHPR takes due cognizance of submissions of the Disability Partners to the relevant working group; the Commission continues to work towards inclusive participation and the mainstreaming of disability in all thematic areas of their work, and commits to this…

With almost an estimated 80 million people living with disability, Africa seems to be facing a lot of challenges in tackling access to education, health, suitable shelter adequate food, stigma and discrimination related to disability. Some analysts are saying that this is another attempt to lock disability issues into an intellectual ghetto. In other words, some people are trying to get funding only to be channeled through consultancy fees and per diem…. as the focus should on how to break the cycle of poverty and stigma that are hitting persons with disabilities.