Activists of the Co-ordination of Coalition on Disability (CCD) have demanded for the establishment of a fully-fledged Authority to ensure effective social service delivery for all Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
During a recent CCD dialogue, bringing together eleven PWD national organizations and Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development, it was proposed that a comprehensive law be enacted to amend the Disability Amendment Bill (PWDs) 2014, which is not far-reaching enough to address their issues.
The Disability Rights Programme Officer for Eastern Africa at the Open Society Human Rights Initiative, Boaz Muhumuza, said that the provisions of the PWDs Bill 2014, has no Government commitment to provide social services and of the enjoyment of the rights to all persons with disability.
He added that for Uganda, a country that was involved in the negotiations on the United Nations Convention on the of Persons with Disabilities Rights, it lacked the domestication of the Charter for “proper planning and budgeting by Government departments to accommodate persons with disability in regard to social services delivery”.
It is against this background that PWDs activists justified the need for the establishment of an Authority for PWDs. He added that many health workers cannot communicate with the deaf people and therefore cannot diagnose, or even prescribe, the necessary treatment yet PWDs are also entitled to such services.
“If trees have an Authority [National Forestry Authority], the wild animals have an Authority [ Wildlife Authority], among others, what about persons with disabilities?” Muhumuza asked.
He suggested that it be referred to as the Disability Accommodation Authority and would ensure that PWDs are involved in Government programmes for accommodation and accessibility. Muhumuza further proposed that, for the start, the Authority be allocated at least 15 billion shillings .
The Executive Director Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD), Ambrose Murangira, further tasked the Government to consider providing sign language interpreters for all deaf people in Uganda, as it is done in Rwanda.
As the Co-ordinator of CCD, Murangira reminded all Members of the 10th Parliament that their decisions in regard to the PWD Amendment Bill 2014 will have an effect and serious implications on the lives and enjoyment of human rights for 12.4% of the total population of the country.
The Parliamentary Committee Chairperson on Gender, and Nakasongola District Woman MP, Margaret Komuhangi, expressed commitment to work to iron out the gaps in the proposed law in order to compel Government to adequately provide for persons with disability. She agreed with the PWDs fraternity that amendment of the law is a key priority to ensure PWDs also enjoy their rights as the other citizens.
She revealed that the committee final report will be ready the end of October the fraternity will receive a good law. “Much as the PWDs across the country have called it a dangerous Bill, the committee will engage them to ensure that the pending issues are harmonized with the stakeholders before the report is presented in Parliament,” Komuhangi added.
She pledged to lead her committee members to missions in Kenya and Ghana on the outstanding issues of creating a special fund and a fully-fledged Authority for PWDs.
She said it is paramount for Government to avail the necessarily learning materials and build capacities of teachers in regard to special needs in all schools. She added that despite the physical disability most of the PWDs are intelligent and have a great contribution to the country’s economy.