Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Uganda are not able to fully enjoy their rights according to a report from the National Council for Persons with Disabilities(NCPD).
The draft report, which is the country’s account from 2012 on the observance of the Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), shows that while Uganda has many laws to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, many of them are not implemented.
The CRPD is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations that is supposed to protect the rights and dignity of PWDs. There are 24 basic rights of PWDs. These include among others a right to education, accessibility, life, nationality, access to justice, liberty to movement, privacy, access to information, work and employment, and equal access to health.
The report was compiled from findings from consultative meetings with PWDs, organizations of PWDs, and MDAs. The report highlights three areas where the government has not done enough to improve the lives of PWDs. According to the report, PWDs still do not have access to public offices, and health services fifteen years after Uganda signed the treaty.
Figures from the report indicate that 90 percent of PWDs are not able to either physically access infrastructure or have different forms of information. The report shows that many government buildings like parliament, banks, and even schools lack ramps or lifts, despite several laws such as the Building Control Act, which make it mandatory for all buildings to have them.
Patrick Ojok, the lead consultant on the study and a community and disabilities rights expert, says the report shows that the right of accessibility by the government has been limited to including ramps on buildings while other public areas remain inaccessible to PWDs.
Dr. Ojok adds that many are forced to rely on other persons to access Automatic Teller Machines(ATMs) because the infrastructure is not friendly.
In addition to not being able to access infrastructure, the report also shows persons who suffer from mental disabilities are often not able to enjoy rights such as standing for office. According to Dr. Ojok, the country still has colonial laws that discriminate against persons with mental disabilities.
According to Dr. Ojok, more government intervention is needed to implement laws that will enable PWDs to enjoy their rights. Yona Wasswa, the Chairperson of NCPD says while the government seems to be on track as far as implementing the convention on the rights of people with disabilities as far as enacting laws, more needs to be done to effectively implement the convention.
Wasswa recommends more allocation of government funds to enable the implementation of all the articles of the convention.
Grace Pelly, the Deputy Representative for UN Human Rights in Uganda, says that there are areas where the country could improve. “Despite the progress made, the report shows that there are still challenges that need to be addressed. Some of the issues that stand out are the continued discrimination, the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in accessing transport, and the violations to the right of life,” she said.
The report shows that the country has made tremendous in passing the Persons with Disabilities Act 2020 which recognizes people with different impairments as human beings who have the rights to education, medical treatment, employment, and justice.
Prosper Muhuma, the Commissioner in charge of PWDs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development says the implementation of the convention needs a muti-sectoral approach. Muhumuza however said that all miniseries would be held accountable for any failures to implement the various laws.