African states affirm the rights of persons with disabilities

African states affirm the rights of persons with disabilities

The newly adopted Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights has great potential to strengthen the implementation of universal human rights for 84 million Africans with disabilities, a UN human rights expert has said.

“I welcome the African Union’s historic adoption of a Protocol that deals specifically with the rights of people with disabilities. The hard work and leadership of people with disabilities across Africa had made the milestone possible after nearly 20 years of preparation,” said Catalina Devandas, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

“This positive development should lead to considerable improvements in the lives of African people with disabilities. The Protocol addresses some of the urgent issues that have the most disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, such as poverty, systemic discrimination and harmful practices.”

“The Protocol is expected to trigger a much greater inclusion of the concerns of people with disabilities in laws, policies and budgets, because it ensures increased accountability and closer oversight of how States implement their human rights obligations,” the Special Rapporteur added.

Ms. Devandas encouraged all 53 States which have already signed up to the Charter to ratify the Protocol without delay. She also reminded the African states of their responsibility to ensure protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in conformity with the standards of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“The Protocol, builds on the Convention, for example by explicitly recognizing people’s rights to exercise legal capacity and by providing protection against any interference with such capacity – a right set out in my recent report to the Human Rights Council,” the Special Rapporteur said.

The adoption of the Protocol, which took place at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 29 January, is the culmination of a process that began in 1999 with the declaration of the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities and the creation of an ad hoc Working Group.

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