By Landing Ceesay
The Parliamentarian for Wuli West said for the last 55 years persons with disabilities in the Gambia have been denied their entitlements.
“We are seeing that for the last 25 years and the law [1997 Constitution] said we are all equal here and that we all have the same entitlements; but persons living with disabilities have been denied for the last 55 years. So, this law [Disability Bill] we are making is different from all the laws we are making. This means that it has to be more comprehensive than anything else is,” Honourable Sidia Jatta said.
The experienced NAM added that the group has also been suffering for the said period, although the 1997 Constitution talks about the rights of persons with disabilities.
“This law [Disability Bill] we are about to make for me is the most important law that we will ever make. Yes, the Constitution talks about the rights of persons with disabilities but this Constitution has come into force since 1997, what has been done, absolutely nothing. For the last 55 years even though this law existed, certain groups of people have been suffering,” he stated.
Sidia said there is a need to make an inventory of all those people who matter here and classify them because they do not have the same need.
The NAM for Wuli West made these remarks on Monday during the second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2021 legislative year in his intervention on the report of the standing committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters on the Persons with Disabilities Bill 2020.
While responding to some concerns raised other NAMs on the lack of engaging all the concerned stakeholders during the committee’s findings, Ndey Yassin Secka a nominated member and representative of persons with disabilities said the committee invited all the stakeholders and what her was represented in the report of the committee came from the stakeholders.
“Maybe how the report was presented here, but all that is being said here, everything about the report is from the stakeholders especially from the federation of persons with disabilities. We invited the chairperson of the Federation who is from the Ministry of Justice. So, I am pleading with my colleagues to adopt this report with amendments and see how best we can go about it,” she said.
Ndey Yassin Secka urged the NAMs to consider the bill because it has been in the parliament since 2010.
“We should have really come up and say this is what the federation said. This is what the Ministry of Justice said by summarizing it. But most of these reports are from the stakeholders. People are saying the needs of the disabilities …are expensive but other needs are more expensive than the disabilities bill. Although disabilities is a package, especially what you need when it comes to visual impairment. We need a white chain, machines, note-takers and those things are not available here. So it has to be expensive,” the nominated member said.
She further stated that they need the disabilities appliances for them to carry out their lives.
The committee observed that the bill complements the rights of the disabled in Section 31 of the 1997 Constitution.
The Persons with disabilities bill 2020 seeks to promote and protect the welfare and being of persons living with disabilities in the Gambia. After a long plenary session on the report of the standing committee on Human Rights and constitutional matters on persons with disabilities bill 2020. The National Assembly members unanimously agreed for the bill to go back to the standing committee for further scrutiny as they missed certain procedures during their findings.