Movement call for the re-enacting of PWD Act 715

The disability movement in Ghana, led by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation (GFD), has called on Government to, as a matter of urgency, re-enact the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715).

Joseph Atsu Homadzi , the National President of GFD, said the Act had failed to provide a clear definition of the concept of disability hence did not embrace the evolving nature and understanding of disability.

He explained that the Act approached disability from a charitable and medical standpoint – a shortcoming that called for its comprehensive review.

“It is worth noting that Act 715 does not align with the obligations outlined in Article 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” he said.

The UN Convention emphasised the rights of individuals with disabilities and introduced a social model that recognises existing barriers hindering their full and equal participation in society – a sharp contrast to the functional limitations emphasised by the medical and charitable models.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities introduced essential concepts such as the inclusion, reasonable accommodation, accessibility, universal design, and communication, which included sign language.

The above concepts, Mr. Homadzi in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said were absent from the current Act.

Although he acknowledged that Government had earlier committed to amending the (PWD) Act at the Global Disability Summits held in 2018 in London and 2022 in Oslo, Norway respectively, the process and progress had been “unexpectedly sluggish”.

 The process, which began in 2013, he said, was yet to reach its final stage.

That, he said, had resulted in a perceived violation of the rights of individuals with disabilities.

On June 23, 2006, the Parliament of Ghana passed Act 715. The Act was established to promote and protect the rights of PWDs in Ghana, ensuring their fair and meaningful participation in society at all levels.

Since 2009, June 23 has been observed annually as the National Day of Persons with Disability, with each year addressing specific issues related to the Act and the rights of individual PWDs.

This year’s commemoration would be held on Friday, June 23, 2023, with the focus on the need for prompt action from duty-bearers in re-enacting the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715).

“The Persons with Disability Act in Ghana currently has several deficiencies. For example, the Act does not acknowledge inclusive education, despite Ghana having adopted an inclusive education policy. Additionally, it lacks provisions protecting the rights of women, children, and the elderly with disabilities,” he said.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Amend Ghana’s Person with Disability Act Now: A Step to Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

This year’s theme, would also be used to highlight existing gaps in Ghana’s Disability Act with a call on duty-bearers to amend the Act to align with international treaties and protocols, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006, which Ghana ratified in 2012.

It would also serve as a guide to mobilise stakeholders to work collectively toward the effective inclusion of persons with disabilities in achieving the sustainable development goals.

Source: GNA

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