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Commemorating IDPWD 2020:HRCSL engages disable community on Disability & Sexual Offences Acts

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) yesterday engaged the disable community, especially women with disabilities and other stakeholders on the Disability Act of 2011 and the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 as amended in 2019.

The meeting at the Sierra Leone Scripture Union Hall in Freetown was organized in commemoration of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disability on December 3, 2020 on the theme: “Building back better: towards an inclusive, accessible and safe post COVID-19 world”. It was also part of activities marking the Sixteen (16) Days of Activism on rape and gender based violence.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/3 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, as well as raising awareness about conditions of disables.

In his statement, President of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI), Santigie Kargbo, thanked the commission for initiating such an engagement, which according him will help persons with disabilities to understand the act that protect their rights.

“We have achieved many so things as disables over the years. I want to encourage to listened and know more about what is in the Disability Act. There have been so many violations of our rights but I am not sure if we are making it known to the relevant authorities for action,’ he said.

Mr. Kargbo informed the gathering about discussion they have started with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for an employment quota in Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Also speaking, Western Area Coordinator for the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), Jonathan Conteh said: “The relationship between the two institutions is very strong. We have work together on many projects across the country.”

He stated that the theme for this year’s celebration resonate well with the prevailing conditions and situations of persons with disabilities around the world.

Delivering the keynote address, Commissioner Hassan Samba Yarjah said: “Let’s not be complacent with the fact that persons with disabilities, particularly women have been adversely affected in any public health emergency, and the COVID-19 has exposed us of lacking any specific policy targeting them during emergencies.”

He called for prompt action to be taken in order to break down the barriers that exclude persons with disabilities and assured that the commission cannot rest, until those with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Commissioner Yarjah stated that the HRCSL have been working with the disability commission to ensure that they are fully capacitated to carry out the mandate of seeking the welfare of persons with disability in the country.

He spoke about the creation of a Disability and Non-Discrimination Response Desk by the commission in 2008 and added that they have been championing issues of discrimination on those with disabilities.

“The commission was instrumental in the drafting and passing into law the Persons with Disability Act of 2011, which established the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities in 2012,” Commissioner Yarjah stated.

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