GFD calls for immediate action on Disability Bill

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Muhammeh Krubally, president of The Gambia Federation for the Disabled (GFD) has called on The Gambia government and partners to work together to ensure that the pending Disability Bill is presented before the National Assembly without further delay.

The bill is aimed at protecting persons with disabilities in order for them to realise their dreams.

 Krubally made these remarks during the National Stakeholder’s Forum on Disability Rights Bill held at a local hotel yesterday.

ARTICLE 19 West Africa in partnership with the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) with support from the European Union is implementing a two-year project aimed at Strengthening Human Rights Standards in The Gambia.

As part of this project, ARTICLE 19 and The Gambia Federation of the Disabled (GFD) held a one-day National Stakeholder’s Forum on the Disability Rights Bill.

The forum brings together over 200 key stakeholders including government, representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organisations, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) among others to discuss the pending Disability Rights Bill and its importance.

“The forum creates an opportunity to discuss wide range of issues pertaining to the rights of disabled persons in The Gambia and how to ensure their inclusion in the ongoing reforms bearing in mind their unique circumstances and the opportunities the transition presents for the respect for human rights.”

He highlighted that The Gambia government has not extended subvention to the GFD for over 10 years, adding that has caused difficulties for them to run the day to day activities of the federation and cater for the needs of persons with disability.

He further stated that employment, education, equal opportunities in terms of scholarships, health and health services are all issues that have not been accorded to persons with disability, noting that no discrimination should be the order of the day because they have fundamental human rights as able persons do have. 

“We feel that as persons with disabilities, we are not actually protected since there is no existing legislation that will bind Gambian government, non-governmental organisations and other relevant authorities in addressing our needs”, he lamented.

Mr. Krubally who is the first and only Gambian visually impaired magistrate, noted that there are a lot of abilities in persons with disabilities.

He further said that The Gambia government has not been paying urgent attention to the needs, inherent fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities in terms of education, equal opportunities, health and no discrimination.

He said since the bill was drafted not much attention has been given to it by relevant ministries.

The specific objective of the forum was to advocate for the enactment of the Disability Rights Bill by engaging the government and lawmakers on the need for the pending Disability Rights Bill to be enacted and to discuss obstacles hindering same. It will also raise awareness on persons with disabilities’ participation in decision-making processes in order for them to live independently and be better included in the community and to exercise their rights on an equal basis with others.

The forum also seeks to advocate for the review of national policies and legislation to eliminate or amend those that could entrench discrimination and deny persons with disabilities from participating in social, economic and political spheres and to further engage persons with disabilities and their organisations in the process of revision where possible.

It is expected that persons with Disabilities will be better informed of their rights and understand what those rights and responsibilities involve on a personal level; that persons with Disabilities have a greater appreciation of the Disability Rights Bill.

It also seeks to commit government to make public and fast track the enactment of the Disability Rights Bill; that persons with Disabilities are assured of inclusion in the new dispensation; and that all participants at the forum are aware of the daily challenges faced by persons with disabilities in The Gambia.

Author: Fatou Bojang & Kaddy Cham