Dec 5, 2011. By Abibatu Kamara. From http://www.awoko.org.
challenged, visual and hearing impaired on Saturday 3rd December 2011
commemorated International Day of the Disabled in grief and issued an ultimatum
to government to either implement the Disability Act (which was passed into law
in March 2011) or they will boycott the 2012 elections.
The theme of the Day was “Together for a better world: including persons with
disabilities in development” and was commemorated with a march past from the
Victoria Park to the Youth Centre at Garrison
Street in Freetown.
Chairman of the ceremony, Dr (PhD in Engineering) Abdulai Dumbuya said the
theme was appropriate, adding that when people think of development persons
with disability should be included.
He described the Persons with Disability Act as a light house in a desert. “The
Act is wonderful but if not implemented it is of no use to us” Dumbuya said.
President Sierra Leone Union on Disability
Issues (SLUDI) Kabba Franklyn Bangura thanked the Ministry of Social Welfare
Gender and Children’s Affairs for enacting the Disability Act and ratifying the
United Nations Convention on Disability.
He reiterated that if disabled persons are not included in the government
Agenda for Change, they will be left out. Bangura noted that people with
disability should be included in governance and national development.
President Bangura stated that since the enactment of the Act in March 2011,
nothing has been done to address the issue of disability. In a strong tone, he
issued an ultimatum for the 31st of March 2012 for the implementation of the
Act; “failing which will result in us (disabled persons) boycotting the
“We will launch massive campaigns to boycott the elections”, he threatened. One
of the reasons for government not implementing the Act, he attempted to answer
is the failure of not empowering the disability division at the Ministry of
Bangura appealed to his colleagues not to coerce people for money and behave
themselves well in society so that their advocacy will have impact.
A Representative from One Family People Mohamed Turay called on his colleagues
to stop the infighting and urged them to instead fight against one of their
enemies – discrimination.
He frowned at ongoing construction of roads without provision made for disabled
people using wheel chairs.
Human Rights Commission Research and Documentation Officer, Franklyn Kamara
said that the Commission is working on ensuring that the Act is being
UNIPSIL Human Rights Officer Martin Bohnstedt said persons with disabilities
worldwide continue to face frequent discrimination. Recently he said, the
government of Sierra Leone
has shown increased commitment on disability issues.
Bohnstedt reiterated that “the enactment of the Persons with Disability Act
largely fills the gap between Sierra
Leone’s international obligations and its
national legal framework”.
Director of Gender, at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Fatu Kargbo stated that
government is mindful of the fact that the rights of persons with disabilities
must be protected and must be given equal opportunity to participate in
national development. She said “I wish to reiterate that the government will do
everything possible to ensure that policies and laws that protect all its
citizens and promote equal and equitable participation in the national
development process are pursued.”
Government, the Director said, will concentrate on strengthening the Disability
division of the Ministry of Social Welfare to take leadership role to
coordinate at inter-ministerial level together with government and
non-governmental representatives, in the implementation of respective policies
and laws that are being in place for the inclusion of persons with
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