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National Assembly Ratifies Protocols on Rights of Disabled and Older Persons in Africa

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Hon. Fatou Kinteh, Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Welfare

By Ramatoulie Jawo

The National Assembly members of The Gambia, on Tuesday, considered and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights for Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons in Africa.

Presenting the motions on behalf of the Gender Minister, Hon. Demba Sabally, the Minister of Agriculture, informed members that the Gambian government signed the Charter on Human and People’s Rights on February 11, 1983, and ratified it on June 8, 1983.

“The Government of the Gambia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 6th July 2015 and was domesticated on 6th July 2021 by the National Assembly of the Gambia. This protocol drew inspiration from the convention to ensure that fundamental human rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities are protected, promoted, and fulfilled in all aspects,” he said.

He added that the next periodic report of the African Human and People’s Rights and the Maputo Protocol, to be submitted by the Gambia, will hopefully include the signing and ratification of the protocol on the rights of people with disabilities.

Hon. Sabally emphasized that the rights of persons with disabilities have long been neglected, hence the adoption of the protocol during the 19th Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, held from February 16-25, 2016.

“In essence, the signing and ratification of the protocol would prudently contribute to, among others, the capacity of persons with disabilities to support their own independent living and for them to contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of the communities in addition, the purpose of this protocol is to raise action much higher and give effect to the commitment of the government to the protection of the rights of the person with disability as outlined in section 31 of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia, the Persons with Disability Act 2021 and the UN Charter on Persons with Disability,” he said.

He added that the African Union Protocol highlights the rights of persons with disabilities as a human right and a development issue. The ratification of this AU Protocol will further enable the Gambia to create conditions that allow people with disabilities to actively participate in national development.

Hon. Sabally also mentioned that the AU Social Policy Framework 2008 and the Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Aging 2002 requested the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to elaborate and adopt additional protocols to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights relating to the rights of older persons.

“Honorable Speaker, the most challenging is our traditional approach to reciprocal care for the aging due to rural-urban migration. The focus is on the family unit, and to the advantage of our extended family structure, we used to nurture reciprocal care for all ages and the transfer of values, traditions, and cultures,” he said. 

With the adoption of this protocol, Hon. Sabally stated that the Gambia demonstrates its commitment to ensuring that the Human and People’s Rights of all ages are respected and protected, as premised in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

During the debate, lawmakers highlighted the importance of the motions, emphasizing the need for ratification to ensure the protection, promotion, and respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities. They stressed that persons with disabilities are integral members of Gambian society, whose rights and freedoms must be protected at all times.

Although some lawmakers noted that not much has been done for people with disabilities since the enactment of the disability law in 2021, they unanimously agreed to ratify the motions.

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