Zimbabwe ratifies Disability Rights Treaty

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready…

Harare – Zimbabwe has ratified the Disability Rights Treaty, a protocol that is the first Pan-African human rights treaty that specifically addresses forms of discrimination affecting people with disabilities in the continent.

In a statement, Sightsavers, an international organisation that works in more than 30 countries to prevent avoidable blindness and fight for the rights of people with disabilities said the push for ratification follows years of campaigning and lobbying led by Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, in partnership with local organisations of persons with disabilities, which include the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) and Deaf Zimbabwe Trust.

“The protocol is the first pan-African human rights treaty that specifically addresses forms of discrimination affecting people with disabilities in the continent, such as harmful practices, beliefs, and superstitions,” said the statement.

NASCOH executive director said the ratification of the treaty by the Government of Zimbabwe was a historic moment for the country and persons with disabilities across Africa.

She said the ADP was a vital instrument in tackling harmful practices, discrimination, and inequality and improving the lives of millions of persons with disabilities within the African and Zimbabwean contexts.

Mr Leornad Marange who is the National Director for the Federation of Organizations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) as well as the Chairperson for Equal Zimbabwe weighed in saying, “The ratification of the ADP demonstrates Zimbabwe’s commitment to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities to ensure they can access their rights on an equal basis with others. We now look forward to the domestication of the ADP.”

The ADP builds on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which was the first comprehensive human rights treaty of this century. But unlike the UNCRPD, the ADP addresses the specific and unique forms of discrimination that affect the more than 80 million people with disabilities living in African countries.

Once ratified, the protocol will ensure that member countries have to create and enact disability-specific laws and policies in line with the treaty. It will also allow their citizens to hold them to account.

The Executive Director of Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, Ms Barbra Nyangairi said, “We are delighted this important human rights charter has finally been ratified by our government. It has been a long journey – but this is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive society where people with disabilities are protected by specific laws which cater to their needs.”

Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign is working alongside Persons with Disabilities in 13 countries who are calling on their governments to ratify the ADP and protect the rights of people with disabilities across the continent.