Disability Act of NDC 2005 Needs Amendment
-Says AYWDN Coordinator
The Country Coordinator for the African Youth with Disabilities Network-Liberia Chapter (AYWDN), Mr. B. William M. Yarsiah says he wants the President George M. Weah led administration to place premium on the issue of persons living with disabilities.
He alleged that despite the passage of the disability act of 2005, they have not been given the needed attention for which his organization deemed it necessary to repeal the existing law.
The new or proposed act which seeks to repeal the old one seeks to provide additional opportunities and privileges for the disabled communityThe draft act was in November 2017 crafted in consultation with the disability acts of both Ghana and Sierra Leone from where some well intentioned provisions were extracted from the old and incorporated into the new act.
According to Mr. Yarsiah, “For too long their issues have been taken back seats, while they have been treated as back branders and so, I am optimistic that President Weah will respond to their plea and restore to them all rights under the law.
“The passage of the amended version of the NCD will demonstrate that members of the 54th legislature have true love for the disable community which statistics has shown to have make up nearly 18 percent of Liberia’s population,” Yarsiah noted.
He then extolled participants, many of whom were from the disabled community for turning out for the history making occasion, which he said sets the stage for the inclusion of persons living with disabilities not only in the Liberian society but also to be protected by the government.
The exercise is being sponsored by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and that the validation exercise was held at the Fiamah, Sinkor National Headquarters of the AYWDN.
Among many provisions included in the draft bill is a call for free education for all Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), a reserve seat for them on public transports and reserved spaces and at parking lots as well as under construction public buildings.
The bill also provides for a board of directors for the commission, term of office, the removal of the marital requirement for the commissioners as indicated in the existing act and the avoidance of any form of discrimination against PWDs whether in the work place or social settings and also wants government to ensure inclusive education for all disabled people no matter their social or physical condition among others.
In remarks, NCD Human Resource Director Hannah J. Watson an eminent Person and former NCD Deputy Director praised the AYWDN for envisioning a process that seeks to standardize the operations of the NCD and provide additional opportunities and protections for persons living with disabilities.
Madam Watson noted that while the draft bill to repeal the existing law is well in terms of its intentions, and speaks of the interests and protection of disabled people, it musts firstly be taken to the NCD for the inclusive participation of all persons living with disabilities and operators of disabled organizations in the country before presenting it to the 54th National Legislature for passage into law.
For his part he Former Deputy Director of the National Commission on Disabilities, the Reverent Fallah Boima, said unless a strategy is designed to ensure the passage of the bill by the National Legislature, it would be dusted just as many other bills continued to hold the shelf of the house of parliament.
Rev. Fallah Boima also called for unity and oneness as well as the unity of the mind in the presentation of the bill, rather than the issue of one organization fronting to carry the credit of being the brain behind the repealed bill.
It can be recalled that in November last year, several persons representing various disabled organizations in the country met in Kakata for the drafting of the bill.
According to the drafters, several rights of people living with disabilities were left out of the NCD act which should form a cogent part of the national document.
AYWDN Liberia Chapter was created as a result of a Steering Committee Strategic Planning and Training Session that was organized by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) along with the Open Society Foundation’s Youth Initiative (YI) and the Disability Rights Initiative (DRI) in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Liberia Chapter of the AYWDN was established during a convening of a meeting with twenty-nine (29) Youths with Disabilities (YWDs) on February 21, 2012 under the auspices of the African association.