The Department of Human Development and Social Affairs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has urged all member states to ratify African Union Protocol on Persons with Disabilities.
The call was made when a Regional Coordination and Training Meeting on the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in West Africa held in Accra on Monday October 10, 2022.
While delivering his speech during the opening of the meeting, Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Ghana deplored the fact that only three out of the 15 ECOWAS countries have ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (known as the AfChHPR-PWDs).
He mentioned Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo as the only countries that had ratified the protocol.
“We must all unite to reverse this trend in order to contribute to the realisation of a fully integrated community of people in a peaceful and prosperous region, with strong institutions that respect fundamental freedoms and work towards inclusive and sustainable development,” Ambassador Baba Gana Wakil noted.
He said, “To reiterate the call for action made by Mr. António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, all countries are urged to fully implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, increase accessibility and dismantle economic and other barriers to the active participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations”.
For his part, Ambassador Cessouma Minata Samaté, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, the main purpose of this Meeting of Experts on Regional Coordination and Training on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in West Africa was to popularise the Protocol (Af-ChHPR-PWDs) in all ECOWAS Member States to enable them have a better understanding of this continental legal document and its accompanying policy instruments; promote its ratification and subsequent implementation.
Madam Samaté reiterated her Department’s commitment to support ECOWAS in the signing, ratification, implementation and reporting process of the AU Disability Architecture (AUDA). She also recalled that Ratification is only one significant step towards a good intention.
“What matters most is the development and implementation of legal and legislative texts and relevant policies for the benefit of people living with disabilities,” the African Union Commissioner added.
The Director General of Social Inclusion of Guinea Bissau, Mrs. Paula Saad, representing General Umaro Sissoko Embalo, current Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, opined that the regional meeting of experts would serve as a melting point for all Member States to work as a team in order to put an end to the violations of the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities and reverse the trend towards their full inclusion.
In her keynote address during the opening session, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Council on Disability, Barrister Esther Akua Gyamfi informed participants that the Ghanaian authorities have mandated the National Council on Disability to coordinate and work with organisations of persons with disabilities and other relevant stakeholders to sign and ratify the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.