Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) advocating for the wellbeing of persons with disabilities have called upon the government to ratify Africa Disability Protocol (ADP).
If ratified, the protocol will help address specific issues such as customs, traditional believes and harmful practices, the role of family, community and care givers that impede their rights.
Executive Director for Disability, HIV and AIDS Trust (DHAT) David Njaidi made the call during a press briefing on Tuesday in Lilongwe.
“Our main issue here is that as disability organizations in Malawi together with our funders, we wish to call upon our government to ratify the APD which Malawi signed in February 2022,” he said.
The ADP compliments the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by addressing the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the African context.
Njaidi commended Malawi for signing the ADP, saying but without its ratification, it means the protocol is unbinding which can be ignored because it is irrelevant for implementation.
Adding that the essential disability services can be sidelined leading to neglect and suffering of persons with disability within government programs including the Malawi 2063 development agenda.
He further explained that ADP is very important to African citizens because it recognizes community based rehabilitation and minority groups and their challenges within the African disability community including people with albinism.
The ADP also advocates for specific issues which the UNCRPD alone cannot address for instance the abductions and killings of persons with albinism which is unique because of some traditional believes in African context.
“Some cultural believes also perpetuate sexual and gender based violence against women and girls with disabilities citing example of a belief that sleeping with a woman with a disability can cure HIV and AIDs.
“There are also some practices that deny children with disabilities to go to school or to own property, to be employed or to take leadership roles including chieftaincies.”
Meanwhile, National Coordinator for Association of Persons with Albinism Meynard Zacharia explained that ratification and implementation of Africa Disability Protocol (ADP) shall help to know and understand why person with Albinism gets attacked, then find out those involved.
“We need to address these issues once and for all. It has been a blame game between countries on where does the remains of albinos go,” he said.
However, the NGOs also called for passing of Persons with Disability bill in the coming sitting parliament which has over stayed and it is very important for the effective coordination, regulation and implementation of the disability programs.
The bill is different to 2012 disability act and the 1971 handicapped persons act.
Once the current bill is passed into law, it will effectively tackle issues of discrimination, poverty, unemployment, education, health, social security, access to justice, information and public buildings.