Government is being accused of relegating the concerns of Persons with disability to the back-burner following its failure to give attention to several calls to review the persons with disabilities Act 715, 2006, which is deficient in many aspects.
According to the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD), Mind Freedom-Ghana and the Media Caucus on Disability, the current disability law, Act 715(2006) is laden with challenges and therefore not robust enough to stand the test of time, hence, the urgent need for the Act to be modified in order to be compliant with the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD).
The inadequacies in Act 715 were identified when the GFD and its partner organizations conducted a gap analyses in 2017 and recognized the need for the Act to be modified to introduce provisions that clearly and comprehensively touch on the human rights of Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the country as prescribed by the UNCRPD.
Ghana passed its Disability Act (715, 2006) and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2012. As a State Party to the UNCRPD, Ghana is required to domesticate the UNCRPD, hence the amendment of the Ghana Disability Act 715, 2006.
The goal of the UNCPRD is to significantly redress the profound social disadvantage of persons with disabilities and promote their participation in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres with equal opportunities, in both developing and developed countries.
The ratification of the Convention meant that Ghana has to amend its Disability law to make it compatible with the UNCRPD. Based on the gap analysis conducted by the GFD and its partners, nationwide consultations with PWDs were done to solicit inputs for the amendment of the Act.
Subsequently a proposed amendment was put together and submitted to the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection for the necessary action to be taken. However, almost 10 months down the line the disability rights organizations claim that nothing is being done to amend the law, hence, their displeasure.
But in a response to Public Agenda, when the paper wrote to the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection seeking information on the status of the proposed Amendment, the Ministry through the National Council for Persons with Disability(NCPD) stated that, "several discussions and consultations have been held with state and non-state-actors (Disabled People's Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and Persons with disabilities to get their inputs for the amendment."
The Council's Acting Executive-Secretary, Mr Kwamena Dadzie who responded to Public Agenda's questions on behalf of the Minister, acknowledged that in 2017, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection received draft proposals for the review of the Ghana Disability Act (ACT 715, 2006) from the GFD, but the proposal has not been submitted to cabinet yet.
However, he said, the Ministry "has constituted a Technical Committee to examine the Ghana Disability Act (715, 2006) vis -a -vis the UNCRPD to identify the gaps and then determine whether a new Ghana Disability Act is required or certain portions of the existing Act should be amendment."
He explained that committee would also draft a Memorandum for the amendment of the Ghana Disability Act (715, 2006) to be submitted to Cabinet to seek authorization for the amendment.
Mr. Dayzie added "In doing this, the Committee would also examine inputs from stakeholders. For example, the draft proposals for the review of the Ghana Disability Act (ACT 715,2006) submitted by the GFD.The Committee would be holding series of meetings to perform the above task."
He stressed, "as State Party to the UNCRPD, Ghana is required to domesticate the UNCRPD, hence the amendment of the Ghana Disability Act (715, 2006). The MGCSP thus see the need to amend the Ghana Disability Act (715, 2006)."
He added that he National Council on Persons with Disability(NCPD) has collaborated with the Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and other stakeholders to develop draft guidelines on the use of appropriate and accessible forms of communication including different language, displays of text, Braille, tactile communications, large print, accessible multimedia, use of sign language interpreters and so on. When finalized, institutions (both public and private) would be required to provide accessible information and services in line with the guidelines.
According to him, one of the strategies to properly address the challenges that Persons with disabilities face is to make disability issues an integral part of the day-to-day activities of all institutions. In line with this intention, the framework and strategies on Disability Mainstreaming in Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have been developed and would soon be launched.
"Aside what is being done to find employment in the public sector (For example, the employment of over 70 Persons with Disabilities by the Roads and Transport Ministry as Toll Booth attendants), the government is promoting self-employment among Persons with disabilities. The NCPD has had discussions with some business entities which are ready to offer training and technical support free of charge to Persons with disabilities to enable them set up their own businesses as individuals and groups."
Among key provisions of the UNCRPD, the draft gap analysis report, clarifies that unlike Ghana's Disability (Act 715, 2006), the UNCRPD took the social model of disability into consideration and provides for an overarching protectionist regime, including equal recognition before the law under Article 12, access to justice under article 13, liberty and security of person under Article 14, equality and non-discrimination under Article 5, accessibility under Article 9 and right to life under Article 10.