Statement of the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, at the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3rd December 2018

    On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), this 3rd December 2018, the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights joins celebrations happening all over the world aiming at, among others, promoting understanding of disability issues and mobilising support for ensuring the dignity, rights and well-being of Persons with Disabilities.

    The theme of this 2018 edition of the IDPD is ““Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.  It speaks to three of the core objectives of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa (the Protocol), which was adopted this year by the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Head of States and Governments of the African Union (held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 22 to 29 January 2018).

    It will be recalled that, at the request of the African Union, the drafting process of the said Protocol was led by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights through its Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa.

    The Protocol which has registered so far only one signature from the Central African Republic, with no single ratification to date indicates at its Article 1 that “The purpose of this Protocol is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human and people’s rights by all persons with disabilities, and to ensure respect for their inherent dignity.”

    Subsequent provisions of the Protocol deal with issues pertaining to equality, inclusiveness as well as the obligation to capacitate Persons with Disabilities in order for them to better attain respect and protection of all their human rights. Thus, the Protocol contains Articles providing, among others, for:

    (i)            General Principles (Article 2);

    (ii)           General  Obligations (Article 3);

    (iii)          The prohibition of Non Discrimination (Article 4);

    (iv)          The Right to Equality (Article 5);

    (v)            The Right to Education (Article 14);

    (vi)          Measures for Habilitation and Rehabilitation(Article 16); and

    (vii)         The Right to Work (Article 17), etc.

    The above Articles are to safeguard Persons with Disabilities against all forms of exclusion and discrimination on the basis of disability.

    The Working Group therefore calls on Members States of the African Union to ratify the Protocol as a matter of utmost priority and to commit themselves at promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities living in their respective countries.  This applies equally to any other legal framework pertaining to the rights of persons with disabilities which would seek to equip them with the requisite means to help overcome such disabilities. The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works to Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities[1] is one such legal framework.  It addresses some of the main barriers hindering the empowerment of persons with visual impairment; namely the unavailability of reading material in accessible formats and it is important that advocacy for its widest ratification in Africa be pursued.

    At this juncture, the Working Group wishes to underscore that it fully supports initiatives from various stakeholders aiming at ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development as pledged by the United Nations. This noble goal is achievable by enabling persons with disabilities to participate in actions or plans relative to their rights and conditions, because it ensures ownership as well as the clear identification of challenges they face and a proper framing of the appropriate solutions.

    Further, the Working Group reaffirms its commitment to work toward the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and welcomes the UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development | 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities; which aim “is to contribute to the full and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and enhance the current efforts to mainstream the needs, rights and perspectives of persons with disabilities into the process of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at all levels.”[2] This Report will undoubtedly guide stakeholders in their strives to promote and protect human rights of persons with disabilities as it poses a clear diagnosis of challenges faced by them and “presents good practices and policy trends in the respective areas”.

    The Working Group acknowledges that lot is yet to be done in relation to combatting discrimination on the basis of disability and ensuring the dignity of persons with disability, but remains confident that with coordinated efforts and continuous advocacy, stereotypes associated with disability can and will be changed.

    It is on this rather positive note that the Working Group wishes all Persons with Disabilities and their caregivers a happy celebration of the 2018 edition of the IDPD. 

    Done in Banjul, the Republic of The Gambia, on 3rd December 2018



    [1] This is a treaty on copyright adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 28 June 2013. It entered into force on 30 September 2016.

    [2] United Nations 2018 flagship report on disability and development: realization of the Sustainable Development Goals by, for and with persons with disabilities - Note by the Secretariat presented at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

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      Date: 03 December 2018

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