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Gambia validates disability bill, policy

Aug 4, 2016, 10:32 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

Stakeholders from different sectors on Friday validated the National Disability Bill and the draft Disability Integrated Policy at the end of a two-day forum held at a local hotel in Bijilo.

The forum was organised by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Gambia Federation for the Disabled (GFD).

The bill and policy covered a wide range of topics including inclusive education for the disabled child and special measures for the protection of women with disabilities. 

Speaking on the forum, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Saffie Sankareh, said the documents are a testimony of the government’s commitment to create a conducive environment for persons with disabilities to enjoy their rights and realise their full potential in society.

She pointed out that addressing all the economic and social needs of people living with disabilities is fundamental in achieving an environment where such people are empowered to realise their full potentials.

Ms Sankareh noted that the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the UN General Assembly is a major milestone and achievement in the history of disability movement.

“It serves as a building block towards the promotion of equality and universal access for people with disabilities throughout the world,” she said.

The solicitor general said The Gambia government is determined to move forward with the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disability.

This is why the government endeavours to develop the legal and policy frameworks to eliminate all forms of discrimination and to guarantee the full inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Chairperson of the Gambia Federation of the Disabled (GFD), Isatou Sanyang, said the validation forum is aimed re-affirming their shared concern for the welfare of persons with disabilities.

According to her, the forum will also promote the understanding of disability issues, mobilise support to promote and protect the rights, dignity and wellbeing of persons with disabilities.

Emily Christie, Solicitor at DLA Piper who currently provides technical support to UNICEF, said the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides for the protection of the rights of the disables, especially children.

Fanta Bai Secka, director of the Department of the Social Welfare, said the forum is important in the government’s drive to domesticate the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Disability is part of human creation and a manifestation of diversity in the society,” she said.  She further added that disability is developmental issue that needs to be addressed to enable persons with disability to have more access to services and facilities.

Madam Secka said enacting the disability bill is timely.