The sorry state of Persons with Disability (PWDs) has attracted the attention of Members of Parliament (MPs), with the lawmakers calling on government to ensure speedy enforcement of all relevant laws so that people with disability could have equal access to public facilities in the country.
The issue took centre stage on the floor of Parliament before the country's lawmaking body ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (PWDs) and the Optional Protocols yesterday.
Speaker Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo accordingly directed the Parliamentary Committee on Employment & Social Welfare to ensure the sector minister brings the Legislative Instrument (LI) to Parliament during the next meeting of the House for the full implementation of Peoples With Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715).
Her directive followed a request from Albert Kan-Dapaah, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang and Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo; MPs for Afigya-Sekyere West, New Juaben North and Wa Central respectively as well as the Committee on Employment & Social Welfare.
The legislators noted that despite some significant progress made after the passing of the PWD Act, there were still many barriers that prevented the full participation of PWDs in the society as well as access to public facilities.
According to them, lack of Legislative Instrument to operationalize the Act was making the implementation of Disability law difficult.
The PWD Act 715 aims at ensuring that PWDs enjoy the rights enshrined in article 29 of the 1992 Constitution and provides for 10 years moratorium after the enactment in 2006 for compliance with provisions and mobility to enable all existing public infrastructure to become disability friendly.
The lawmakers were worried that after six years, no concrete measures had been put in place to make public facilities disability friendly.
The MPs, whose views were captured by a report of the Committee on Employment and Social Welfare, were of the opinion that LI and convention would provide a new impetus and practical focus to removing barriers impeding the rights of PWDs.
The ratification of the convention, according to the Committee chaired by Jacob Hayibor, will invigorate activity to implement the Disability Act and the commitment to ensuring full rights of citizenship PWDs.
It will also create the enabling environment for the country to get access to technical and financial support from the international community to enhance the human rights of PWDs as well as reinforce Ghana's strong role as a human rights defender within the United Nations.
The committee believes that the ratification of the convention and the Optional Protocol will offer adequate guidance in the development of an appropriate Legislative Instrument to give effect to the implementation of People With Disability Act 715 and also to fill the gaps left in the Act.
It would be recalled that the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDs and the Optional Protocol were adopted on December 13, 2006 by the General Assembly of the UN and entered into force on May 3, 2008.
Since then, 106 countries have ratified the convention while 63 countries have also ratified the Optional Protocol.
By Awudu Mahama