14 February 2018

Uganda: Govt Withdraws PWDs Bill 2014 After Four Years

Parliament — Persons with Disabilities will have to wait longer for their pursuits to yield, after Parliament today allowed the government to withdraw the Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014.

The Bill has been in the House for four years now, facing what has been seen as frustrations by sections of lawmakers.

Ms Asamo Hellen Grace (PwDs -Eastern) said that the routine extensions are unfair to the persons with disabilities, who are meant to benefit from the Bill.

"This process may take forever, Persons with Disabilities are waiting out there and we had been promised that this bill was coming," she said.

According to the lawmaker, there was an agreement between the committee on Gender Labour and Social Development that withdrawal would only be made after the new Bill was ready.

In defence of their decision to withdraw the Bill, the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi told Parliament that a new draft Bill is currently at its mature stages before the First Parliamentary Council and would soon be ready for tabling.

The minister asked for a period of one month in which to report to the House with the new "Persons with Disabilities Bill 2017."

The carried bill, according to the Minister, will incorporate all existing legal provisions on disabilities such as the Uganda Foundation to the Blind Act 1954, the National Council for Disability 2003 and Persons WD Act of 2006.

This, Ms Nakiwala said was a result of guidance and proposals form broader consultations.

Aruu County South MP, Odonga Otto tasked the minister to make a commitment to her promise to prohibit anticipation.

"We have problems chasing commitments from ministers and sometimes they are even changed from their positions before completing the work they committed themselves to do," he said.

Mr Odonga argued that the earlier bill was properly tabled before Parliament and it would not be proper for the minister to simply substitute it with a "draft promise."

Often time, proponents for persons with disabilities rights have accused the government of only paying lip service to the quest for a comprehensive and inclusive legal regime.


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