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A human rights advocate and legal practitioner has called on activists, stakeholders and persons living with disabilities (PWDs) to challenge and test the Persons Living With Disabilities Act, 2006, Act 715 to ensure its full implementation.
According to Mr Francis-Xavier Sosu, that was the only way the act could see its full operation in the country, noting that “you must all come together as one group and put the law to test at the highest court of the land”.
He expressed regret over the inability of the government to ensure that the act was fully implemented after it was promulgated almost a decade ago.
The PWD Act was passed into law in 2006 to protect the rights of PWDs, the vulnerable and the marginalised in society.
But speaking at a day’s workshop organised for legal practitioners, PWDs, stakeholders and activists, Mr Sosu said stakeholders and relevant bodies must demand action on the law.
The forum was organised by the Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), a human rights advocacy group, and it was on the theme, “Improving conditions for PWDs”.
Access to justice for PWDs
Quoting some provisions in the 1992 Constitution, Mr Sosu stated that there was no ambiguity about the rights of PWDs in the country.
Article 12, for instance, stipulates that the rights of every human being, including PWDs, cannot be compromised.
However, vulnerable groups such as PWDs hardly have access to justice, more so when they are involved in cases at the various courts.
“For those who hold governance, including Members of Parliament (MPs), they have failed all of us when it comes to improving the living conditions of PWDs and the vulnerable in society,” he said.
He stated that it was unfortunate when people who were supposed to know about the rights of vulnerable groups tended to commit offences against them (vulnerable).
Citizens’ obligation towards PWDs
Mr Sosu emphasised that every citizen was under obligation to protect the rights of vulnerable groups in society.
He proposed that special institutions and schools which catered for PWDs be given a lot of support in terms of budgetary allocation.
Handle pro-bono cases for PWDs
In a presentation, a Senior Technical Advisor of the HRAC, Ms Wendy Abbey, called on lawyers to show much interest in handling pro-bono cases for PWDs, stressing that it would go a long way to advance the cause of PWDs.
In her opinion, the PWD Act lacked proper monitoring to ensure it was fully implemented, a situation which went a long way to deepen the woes of PWDs.