Home Human Rights Enforcement of Disability Rights Act Begins January – FG

Enforcement of Disability Rights Act Begins January – FG

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In a bid to protect the rights and improve the lives of people living with disabilities in Nigeria, the federal government has announced the imminent enforcement of the Disability Rights Act starting in January.

Vanguard reports that the Disability Rights Act was passed by the National Assembly in January 2019, after several years of advocacy by disability rights activists. However, the legislation has not been fully enforced until now. The act covers a wide array of rights, including the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities in various sectors, such as education, employment, healthcare, and public transportation.

The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, NCPWD, James David Lalu, disclosed this at a press briefing held Thursday in Abuja.

He said the move aims to eradicate discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for every citizen, irrespective of their physical or mental abilities.

He emphasized the federal government’s commitment to promoting inclusivity, equal access, and social justice for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

He said, “When you look at the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act, there are a lot in that law. The PWD community carefully sent them to develop that law, and it has taken many years of struggle to get to where we are today.

“Having done that, the commission has been established and given full responsibility for the enforcement of the provisions. Today, they have stated in the last five years that they are even now in the five years surrounding. We are now transitioning from an era of advocacy to an era of enforcement.

“The era of enforcement is here, and by January, the commission is expected to move out in full force to make sure that the provisions of the law are properly enforced.

“The commission will start meeting with its partners and compose the task force immediately before Christmas. Everything will be on the ground before the roundup of this year so that as we come in early next year, the task force will be inaugurated, and immediately after, by the time on 16th of January 2024, will be the expiration date. By midnight after the 17th of January, the Commission and task force will move out in full force.”

Lalu added that the assessment included not only. facilities to ensure easy movement of PWDs but also employment and the overall composition of staff.

He said that after assessment, two certificates will be issued to determine sustainability and full compliance.

“The Commission will visit key offices to start their physical assessment of facilities in key offices. Our assessment may not only focus on the physical facilities but also the composition of the staff in these institutions.

“We want to know how many they have regarding persons with disabilities, the total number of staff in these institutions, and the maintenance of that 5 per cent in these institutions. 

“So we have to find out all of these so that we’re able to determine whether they complied with the law. When you look at the provisions of the regulation, there are two certificates that the commission is empowered to issue. The first certificate is about the accessibility compliance certificate.

“So, we will assess the building and see if it complies with the provisions of the regulation and the provisions of the law. The compliance certificate will be issued to PWDs, and once it is issued, it is expected to be valid for 5 years. After 5 years, we will check again to know if these facilities are still working. If, after 5 years, they are working, we will reissue them.

“Also, the disability compliance certificate looks at the overall compliance of the institution with the provision, including the discrimination against persons with disabilities. If you comply with a disability, you will comply with employment, environment, setting, capacity building, among others.”

Corroborating, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Beta Edu, while calling for synergy between stakeholders to ensure compliance with the Act, stressed the need for domestication of the Act in all states. 

“All that is needed now is the cooperation and support of all stakeholders in Nigeria, including persons with disabilities themselves, to ensure that no stone is left unturned and no one is left behind in the sustainers of strategic advocacies, stakeholder engagement, and effective utilization of opportunities to create for them by the policies and programs of the federal government a better point to leverage from.

“The full implementation and enforcement of the Disability Act is the collective responsibility of all Nigerians. It’s not what the federal government can do alone. All other levels of government—state, local, and even our communities—must become very conscious of this implementation and push for it.

“Also, we want this Act to be domesticated and implemented in all the states. So, we’re challenging all the speakers and the state houses of assembly to quickly swing into action, working with the executive, to domesticate this Act, as well as create a commission that can be a wireline for those at the grassroots,” she said.


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