Persons with disabilities lack legal protection – HRC

HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya

The Human Rights Commission says inadequate implementation of the statutes that seek to protect rights of persons with disabilities is hindering them from enjoying their fundamental human rights.

Speaking when HRC officials met persons with disabilities at Senady lodge in Kabwe today, HRC spokesperson Mwelwa Muleya said the Commission was deeply concerned about the inadequate implementation of legal provisions relating to persons with disabilities.

“We have a constitutional mandate to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the country, including or especially persons with disabilities. As a Commission we are keenly following the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. We are very concerned with the inadequate implementation of legal provisions relating to persons with disabilities,” Muleya said.

He acknowledged positive developments that had been made to actualise the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities.

The HRC spokesperson said having an institutional and legal framework for persons with disabilities was not enough as there was still much that needed to be done through implementation.

“There are some positive developments that have been made. The government in 2010 ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and later domesticated the convention by enacting the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2012. In 2015 government went further to develop a National Policy on Disability. So there is this legal and institutional framework that has been put in place, but if there is no concerted efforts toward implementing them, then the plight of persons with disabilities will continue, if not worsen,” he said.

He reiterated that the Commission was engaging several stakeholders including duty bearers to ensure that persons with disabilities could fully enjoy their rights.

“As HRC we have been engaging various stakeholders and duty bearers and policy makers in government departments so that working together, persons with disabilities can claim and enjoy their rights.” Muleya said.

And Zambia Association for the Blind president Lazarus Chipenge thanked the Commission for responding positively to their request of meeting their members who desired to air their grievances.

Chipenge complained that they were usually discriminated against on the basis of disability.

He lamented that well deserving persons with disabilities were side-lined for promotions in government departments.

“Government does not consider us for promotions even when we have attained higher academic papers. We have members who have remained as switch board operators even when they have upgraded themselves academically. And yet those who are deemed able bodied, may begin work as office orderlies, and will rise to being government executives. This is unacceptable. We want to appeal to the commission to address some of these issues that have been lingering over our heads for 53 years now since independence,” lamented Chipenge.

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