Friday, September 17, 2021

Lawmakers Consider Persons with Disability Bill 2021

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Members of the National Assembly on Tuesday 29th June 2021, considered the persons with disability bill 2021. The bill inter alia seeks to safeguard persons with disability against stigma and discrimination and seeks to safeguard persons with disability against exploitation and as well as provide access to physical environment, training and employment, and access to services provided by the public body.

The bill in Clause 37 indicates that any person who denies a person with disability in respect to right to care services has committed an offence. The bill in Clause 30 advocates for the prevention of persons with disability against matters such as road safety and in Clause 31, it provides measures of rehabilitation of persons with disability.

It also advocates in Clause 32 for vocational rehabilitation and employment of persons with disability, and in Clause 33, it provides for education, especially the provision of assistive services during exams by the Government and their training as well.

Clause 34 prohibits discrimination in learning institutions and services against person with disabilities, while Clause 36 aims to provide employment for person with disability and that the position of the Executive Secretary be changed to Director and Clause 37 provides to safeguard continuation of employment for person with disabilities at work place.

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In Clause 38, the bill provides for the prohibition of termination of employment of person with disability, and that any employer who discriminates against a person with disability, in relation to his or her disability, unless the employer can provide proofs, or otherwise would amount to an offence on conviction to fine of D100, 000.

Clause 38 (A) seeks to give persons with disability recognition in bidding for the advertisement in public and private sector jobs.

Clause 39 provides for access to work places and environment, as well as mandates every employer to provide effective general and technical guidance and continuing career development and advancement for persons with disability.

The bill also prohibits against discriminatory medical examinations against persons with disability in Clause 40, and an employer shall not discriminate against general employees in Clause 41.

In Clause 44, persons with disability shall be entitled to barrier free and shall be entitled to access to the physical environment, access to services provided by the public body in Clause 45, access to information in Clause 46, and access to public transport facilities in Clause 47.

Clause 60 guarantees access to justice and Clause 61 guarantees the enjoyment of freedoms and human rights by persons with disability.

Clause 67 of the bill makes it mandatory for the government to prohibit and criminalize all forms of abuse and harmful practices targeted at persons with disability.

The bill also aims to complement Section 31 of the 1997 constitution which reads:

 1) The right of the disabled and handicapped to respect and human dignity shall be recognized by the state and society;

2) Disabled persons shall be entitled to protection against exploitation and protection discrimination, in particular as regards access to health services, education and employment, and

3) In any judicial proceedings in which a disabled person is a party, the procedure shall take his or her condition into account.

Meanwhile, the Persons with Disability Bill 2021 has successfully gone through the first and second reading as well as consideration stages of the Assembly, and it now awaits a third reading scheduled as part of the current session, for legislative adoption.

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