Plenary adopts Africa Model Disability Law

African Parliamentarians have adopted a Draft Model Law on Disability that was presented by the Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability at the ongoing PAP Third Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

The purpose of this Law is to provide a legal and institutional framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, in line with the existing international and regional legal and policy instruments.

According to the Draft’s Preliminary Provisions, Article 3; Definitions, “Persons with Disabilities” include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in the society on an equal basis with others.”

Presenting the Summary and Report on the development of the Draft Model Law on Disability, Hon. Lucia Mendes dos PASSOS, the Committee Chairperson recommended that the African legislators adopt the model law at the ongoing session and submit it to the African Union (AU) Summit in January 2020 in Addis Ababa.

“Parliamentarians must also promote the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disability in Africa,” said Hon. Passos.

“We need to promote the model law for domestication by Member-States. Also, key is the adoption of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of the implementation of the provisions of the model law,” she submitted.

Embracing the submission, South Africa’s Hon. Pemmy MAJODINA stated that she welcomed the visionary move by PAP in drafting this important legislation.

“I regard the Africa Model Disability Law as one of the important linchpins and enablers in the attainment of Goal 1 of the Agenda 2063,” said Hon. Majodina also emphasizing that the Continental Parliament itself needed to ensure integration of people with disability; both in the  Secretariat as staff, as well as in the Chamber, as Members of Parliament, which requires national parliaments to take the lead by opening up quotas for them.

Hon. Felisberto VIEIRA, from Cabo Verde described the adoption debate and process as a special moment for PAP. “We have to value our people with special needs. It is our duty to make it a point that they are integrated within societies.” He added that security of people with disability must be considered at all levels across the continent.

Hon. Joseph OSEI-OWUSU from Ghana challenged African legislators to convince their Heads of State to ensure that the Draft Model Law on Disability sails through at the African Union.

Confirming the adoption of the model law, PAP President the Rt. Hon Roger Nkodo DANG also urged parliamentarians to lobby their National Parliaments to adopt and domesticate the legislation and the related protocol.

“We need 15 but we have only five countries that have ratified the protocol. Please be our Ambassadors in your own countries for this protocol to be ratified,” he said.

The Protocol on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disability in Africa states that every person with disability has the right to decent work, to just and favorable conditions of work, to protection against unemployment to protection against exploitation and to protection from forced or compulsory labour.

It also talks about the right to education for disabled people, right to health, right to participate in political and public life.