The Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) is urging government to deepen its efforts in implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that the country has signed.
The CRPD is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
In a recent report, the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations lamented government’s reluctance to respect the CRPD – saying that little has been done to address the issue and the country’s laws still leave loopholes in the protection of people with disabilities’ rights. It is against this background that the group is urging government to take proactive steps to protect the rights of this segment of the population.
“The government of Ghana, as a Government Party to the CRPD, has not really done much as far as implementation of the Convention is concerned. While there are laws seeking to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, there are still gaps in the country’s domestic legislation; some of which contravene the CRPD. Overall, there seems to be low political will on the part of government toward a comprehensive implementation of the CRPD.
“For all persons with disabilities in Ghana to attain a full realisation of their respective rights, as espoused by the convention, the government of Ghana will have to execute their commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities through highly expressive cross-sectorial programmes and activities which significantly elicit the full participation of persons with disabilities in mainstream society on an equal basis with others,” it stated.
The report was based on responses from 291 participants – 49 percent females and 51 percent males – involving about fifteen distinct groups of persons with disabilities and representations of relevant civil society organisations, and advocated for an amendment of the Disability Act 715 to make changes in the relevant provision of the Act in accordance with the CRPD.
It raised concern that the Act fails to provide for women and girls as well as older persons and children with disabilities, adding that there are inadequate provisions to fully protect and promote the inherent rights and effective participation of persons with disabilities.
“Ghana’s laws largely define disability from the medical perspective. Ghana’s Persons with Disability Act defines a person with a disability as ‘an individual with a physical, mental or sensory impairment including a visual, hearing or speech functional disability which gives rise to physical, cultural or social barriers that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of that individual’.
“This is problematic, because the definition affects the nature of provisions in the law as well as what rights are conferred on persons with disabilities. The act moreover fails to provide for women and girls as well as older persons and children with disabilities. There are inadequate provisions to fully protect and promote the inherent rights and effective participation of persons with disabilities,” it further added.
The group also raised concerns on other issues – including cultural, religious and social beliefs and norms which often make persons with disabilities susceptible to exploitation, violence and abuse in society.
“In interviews conducted to inform this report, some persons with disabilities shared that they continue to face violence and abuse both at the family and community level. There was an experience shared of a woman with hearing impairment being raped by a neighbour; but the community, including members of her family, did not believe her account of events and intended to sweep it under the carpet,” it noted.
It added that: “There is also inadequate access to effective and accessible recovery and rehabilitation for victims of violence and abuse. Furthermore, significant barriers to the justice system exist which prevent people with disabilities from reporting crimes and having them prosecuted.
“For instance, persons with disabilities have to pay a fee for the medical form confirming their abuse to be endorsed. They are also usually faced with mistrust by actors in the justice system who due to their prejudices do not think persons with disabilities are capable of being sexually abused.”
Government of Ghana Commitments 2022 submitted at the Global Disability Summit 2022
|Make humanitarian action inclusive of persons with disabilities throughout the humanitarian programme cycle.||Situations of Conflict and Crisis, including a focus on Climate Change||Ghana|
|Promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in vocational training and higher education.||Inclusive Education||Ghana|
|Increase funding to support OPD priorities.||Meaningful engagement of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs)||Ghana|
|Address multiple and intersecting discrimination in the health sector.||Inclusive Health||Ghana|
|Support efforts to align existing legislation with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), using the participatory approach of law reforms as required by the CRPD.||Overarching commitments||Ghana|
|Direct greater attention to the rights of persons with disabilities in social dialogue processes.||Inclusive Livelihoods and Social Protection||Ghana|
|Strengthen targetted support for learners with disabilities.||Inclusive Education||Ghana|
|Reduce discrimination and stigmatisation by promoting attitudinal change in communities and across all development cooperation, and addressing intersectionality.||Overarching commitments||Ghana|
|Develop cross-sectoral policies and design action plans in partnership with the full range of stakeholders and communities to facilitate the meaningful inclusion of all children and adults with disabilities, with a special focus on gender equality.||Overarching commitments||Ghana|
|Provide support to promote the employment of persons with disabilities in the public and private sectors.||Inclusive Livelihoods and Social Protection||Ghana|
|Increase sustainable long-term funding for inclusive education.||Inclusive Education||Ghana|
|Strengthen education systems so that they are inclusive of all.||Inclusive Education||Ghana|
|Increase information and knowledge on inclusive education for policy-making and targetted interventions.||Inclusive Education||Ghana|
|Ensure a fully inclusive health sector through Universal Health Coverage.||Inclusive Health||Ghana|
|Support the building of a diverse disability rights movement and OPDs, including underrepresented groups.||Meaningful engagement of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs)||Ghana|
|Develop open, inclusive and accessible work environments.||Inclusive Livelihoods and Social Protection||Ghana|
|Ensure a conducive policy environment.||Meaningful engagement of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs)||Ghana|