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08.10.2003 General News

Disabled community dissatisfied with govt's attitude

By GNA
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Accra, Oct. 8, GNA - The Ghana Federation of the Disabled on Wednesday said it was dissatisfied with government's attitude towards the passage of the disability bill, saying the persistent delays constituted a violation of their human rights.

They said though the draft bill, which started in 1997 and received approval in 2000, and had had a number of reviews, "Government still says it cannot go ahead with it because it was going to act on administrative instructions.

"If that is the procedure, why are bills such as the National Health Insurance, the domestic Violence and the Freedom of Information Act not being treated like the persons with Disability bill," they asked.

These were the sentiments vented out by the members of the Federation at a press conference in Accra.

Mr. Charles Appiagyei, President of the Federation said "members of disability across the length and breadth of this nation are not only dissatisfied with the attitude of government but also they find such attitude unacceptable, to say the least".

He said they were aware of situations in which Parliament had to be recalled from recess in order for a bill to be passed, adding a case in point is the National Health Insurance Law.

Mr. Appiagyei said though they conceded that public education was necessary regarding the ramifications of a bill, the disability bill had received broad consultations.

He said they could not tell which stage the bill had reached and that at present the Federation was having intense pressure from its members to resort to militant measures to fight for their rights. The President said they had written to the Minister of Manpower Development and Employment and held meetings with him as well as had made several attempts calling on government to expedite action on the passage of the bill but all to no avail.

He said earlier this year, the Federation learnt that Cabinet could not give its approval of the bill at the present time because there was the need for the education of the general public on the bill's provisions.

Mr. Nicholas Halm, Secretary General of the Federation said at this crucial stage of Ghana's development, "we need not debate over the importance and relevance of having such a disability law in the country," adding, that, this would rather help to ease the problems of the disabled in the society.

"The days when other members of the society had perceived us neutral should be over. We belong to the society and we can contribute to its development," he said.

Meanwhile, officials at the Ministry of Manpower and Employment had refused to talk to the Ghana News Agency on the premise that the Ministry does not grant interview to journalists without the presence of the Public Relations Officer (PRO).

Mr. Kojo Amoakwa, Chief Director of the Ministry told the GNA that, "It is the Ministry's policy to refuse to talk to the press without the presence of the Public Relations Officer (PRO)," who, he said, is indisposed.

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