THE Lesotho National Federation of Organisation of the Disabled (LNFOD) has called on the government to urgently address barriers that are preventing persons with disabilities from fully enjoying their rights.
LNFORD chairperson, Makotoko Matsolo, made the call during the recent commemorations of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Maseru.
Speaking at the commemorations, Mr Matsolo said persons with disabilities continued to suffer due to the failure to mainstream disability issues in government programmes. He said there were several policy frameworks as well as the Persons with Disabilities Act which was passed earlier this year to ensure the disabled fully enjoyed their rights alongside their able-bodied counterparts.
But these legal instruments had not done much to ameliorate the plight of the disabled due to the government’s failure to budget for programmes to mainstream disability issues at all levels including in the health and education sectors, he said.
“The failure to budget for and to mainstream disability issues continues to negatively affect the enjoyment of human rights by people with disabilities,” Mr Matsolo said.
“LNFOD therefore appeals to the government to allocate a budget for the effective implementation of the Lesotho Disability Inclusive Framework which consists of an array of instruments including the Persons with Disability Equity Act of 2021, the National Disability Mainstreaming Plan from 2020 to 2025 and the Lesotho Inclusive Education Policy.
“The implementation and coordination of the National Disability Mainstreaming Plan should be elevated to the office of the prime minister because it is multi-sectoral and requires high-level coordination.
“In terms of access to justice for persons with disabilities, LNFOD calls upon government of Lesotho to provide the Chief Justice (Sakoane Sakoane) with the resources which will enable him to fully serve persons with disabilities. This can be done by recruiting more court intermediaries with an understanding of disability issues to facilitate the full participation of persons with disabilities. This can also be achieved by drafting and putting in place court rules to ensure effective and equal participation of persons with disabilities in court.
“LNFOD calls upon the wider community to eliminate isolation and discrimination against persons with disabilities. They must accept persons with disabilities as equal human beings with rights,” Mr Matsolo said.
Since 1992, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been commemorated annually on 3 December. The day is about promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at every level of society and development, and to raise awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life.
This year’s theme is “leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward inclusive, accessible and sustainable post Covid-19-world”.