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Enact disability law, govt urged

Limpho Sello

THE Lesotho National Federation of Organization of the Disabled (LNFOD) Executive Director, Advocate Nkhasi Sefuthi, says government should urgently pass the Disability Equity Bill to ensure access to justice, resources as well as protection of the human rights of persons with disabilities.

Advocate Sefuthi made the call against the background of preparations between the Social Development ministry and LNFOD to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disability (IDPD) which is set for 4 December this year in Leribe.

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.

The commemorations are aimed at increasing awareness of the gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Advocate Sefuthi told the Sunday Express in a recent interview that there were several issues which Lesotho needed to address including enacting into law the long-stalled Disability Equity Bill to ensure greater protection for the disabled.

“There are barriers facing people with disabilities in terms of access to justice and human rights due to the fact that the passage of the Disability Equity Bill has been pending for the last five years,” Advocate Sefuthi said.

He said there was also a lack of an inclusive education policy to support teachers and learners with disabilities as well as “discriminatory laws against persons with disabilities such as section 219 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence act which prohibits people with intellectual disabilities from testifying in the courts of laws”.

There is weak social protection for persons with disabilities resulting from not implementing the disability grant by the government despite the fact that it is enshrined in the social protection strategy.”

He said that the stigma and discrimination attached to disability resulted in the exclusion of people with disabilities in the community development work.

He further said the challenges faced by the disabled were compounded by the lack of political will on the part of the government.

“The high unemployment rate among people with disabilities is due to the lack of a law which promotes employment of people with disabilities.

“The commemoration of the 2017 IDPD will be celebrated with the pledge by the Minister of Social Development (‘Matebatso Doti) to present the much-awaited Disability Equity Bill to the parliament.  The disability act will assist Lesotho to fulfill its obligations of promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities,” he said.

Advocate Sefuthi said they had appealed to Ms Doti to present the bill to Parliament before the end of the year as well as to strengthen social protection of people with disabilities by implementing the disability grant in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

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