Our attention has been drawn to a story making headlines on the media over the last weekend of the 4th and 5th of May 2019 regarding an alleged wrongful handling of Nana Yaa Agyemang, a prominent member of the National Executive Council of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD), at one of the registration centres of the National Identification Authority (NIA) as a result of the inaccessible nature of the said centre.
We have taken a peculiar interest in the matter owing to our extensive engagement with the NIA prior to the full roll out of the National Registration Exercise and are therefore astonished at the purported occurrence.
By this press statement, we want to inform the general public that after directly engaging Madam Nana Yaa Agemang on the one hand and the NIA authorities on the other hand on the details of what occurred, the following facts were revealed:
- That, at the said center, the initial phase; filling of the required forms of the registration was held at an accessible environment whilst the second phase; biometric data collection took place at a point not accessible for wheel-chair users, reason for which Madam Nana Yaa was not able to complete her registration at the said center;
- That some bystanders offered to assist her by carrying her up the flight of steps but she rejected such a humiliating and demeaning offer and instead requested for her forms so that she could try out another center that could be more accessible. Her request for her form was however turned down since according to the Registration Officers of the NIA, each registration centre had a specific code that corresponds with the forms being used;
- Upon receiving news of such an occurrence at one of their centres, the Executive Secretary, Director of Operations and Director of Corporate Affairs, all of the NIA proceeded to investigate the matter and were able to ascertain the veracity of the allegations regarding the story of Madam Agyemang’s wrongful treatment. Having called Madam Agyemang and apologised to her about any such wrongful treatment by their staff, they were able to ascertain from her that she had actually not complained about any such wrongful treatment by any staff of the NIA with the exception of reporting that she was unable to complete her registration at the center owing to the inaccessible nature of the area for the second phase of the registration; and that the humiliating and degrading offer was not made by anybody she could identify as NIA staff at the center;
- The NIA as a result of the occurrence, circulated an internal communication to all it’s registration officers, reminding them to remain committed to the principle of giving preferential treatment to all persons within the vulnerable group categories and treating all persons with a high sense of dignity as stipulated in their training manuals and,
- The NIA through its Director of Corporate Affairs went further to serve the GFD with evidence of the internal steps they had taken to avert any such future occurrence.
In view of the above findings, the GFD together with the NIA agreed on the following terms to further enhance access to the registration process by Persons with Disability:
Any person with Disability experiencing any difficulty with the registration process is to call the NIA helpline (0302999306-9) to report their challenge and have it dealt with; and
The NIA is to communicate to the entire Disability Community at the commencement of the registration exercise in any region the most accessible registration centres in any district in which registration is being held so as to avoid the situation of a Person with Disability having to travel to a center only to realize that it is inaccessible, as happened to Madam Nana Yaa Agyemang.
In conclusion, we wish to encourage the Disability Community to remain vigilant in their various localities with regards to upholding or otherwise the rights of any Person with Disability and continue to draw the attention of the GFD to any violations that might be observed.
We further entreat all state institutions to ensure at all times that all public places, as well as services being made available to the public, must be accessible to all persons including Persons With Disability in accordance with sections 6&7 of Ghana’s Persons with Disability Act (Act 715), and Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah (National President)