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02.12.2009 General News

Expedite action on implementation of Disability Act - CHRAJ

By The Statesman
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The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on Tuesday called for the speedy formulation of regulations and legislative instruments (LI) to give life to the Disability Act, ACT 715, 2006.

Mr. Emile Short, the Commissioner, said since the passage of the Act in 2006, the regulation and LI that would set the tone for its full implementation were yet to be formulated.

He was speaking on the topic: "Disability: Human Rights Perspective" at a symposium jointly organized by CHRAJ and the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) in commemoration of this year's International Day for Persons with Disability.

The symposium, under the theme: "Ensuring Systematic Implementation of the Persons with Disability Act, Act 715, 2006," was intended to push for the formulation of regulations and legislative instruments to give life to the Act.

Mr. Short noted that disabled person in Ghana had over the years been deprived of rights to education, healthcare, employment, credit, participation in cultural activities and access to information and to places where they could access opportunities to realize their potential.

"Discrimination against disabled persons has been out of pure public ignorance and misconception about their real status," he said.

He said the term "disabled persons" created an erroneous impression that those persons' functional abilities were completely disabled, when in fact they just had functional limitations.

"I think it is better to describe them as challenged persons instead of disabled persons, so that society will recognize that they have some potential that could be harnessed for national development."

Mr. Short called for the mainstreaming of disability rights saying that government had the responsibility to apply state resources in a manner that protected the rights of all, including disabled persons.

He said CHRAJ welcomed government's decision to make education free for all disabled persons in society.

Ms. Alimata Abdul-Karim, a member of the GFD, blamed the plight of disabled persons in the Ghanaian society on the myopic and superstitious view physically able persons had about physical disability.

She noted that society blamed physical disability on either sin or some spiritual causes and therefore disabled persons were either isolated or subjected to rituals which rather aggravated their condition.

"Even the able persons who purport to represent us at national forums think of us as sick persons needing sympathy and not as persons who have the potential opportunity to realize those potentials.

"We want a situation where government gives us direct information on national policies directly from the word go so we can represent ourselves and speak to those policies by ourselves."

Mr. Kofi Akyea, Deputy Director of Special Education at the Ghana Education Service, said efforts were underway to integrate disabled persons into regular education institutions and train teacher and special persons to attend to their special needs.

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