Blind World Magazine

Act will protect disabled persons from violations to their human rights, and give them redress.

December 23, 2005.
Jamaica Gleaner.

MEMBERS OF the disabled community have more reasons to celebrate this Yuletide season, having received news that the long-awaited legislation to protect their rights is to be drafted next year.

On Monday, Cabinet gave drafting instructions for the legislation to be put in place. According to Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, the Government is taking a multiministerial approach to the new bill in an effort to ensure maximum coverage.

The policy was debated in Parliament early this year, but no action was taken to bring it into law.

Earlier this year, State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Senator Floyd Morris, brought a resolution to Parliament urging the Government to act speedily to enact the legislation.


While it has been long in coming, the disabled community has welcomed the news.

"It is like a Christmas present," said executive director of the Jamaica Council For Persons With Disabilities, Ransford Wright, in reaction to the news.

Mr. Wright noted that disabled persons needed to feel a part of the country.

He said that the legislation would not solve all the problems but at least there would be some recourse in place for persons who felt that they were being discriminated against.

"The act will protect them (disabled persons) from violations to their human rights and it will give them redress," said Valerie Spence, administrator at the council.

Virginia Woods, executive director for the Jamaica Society for the Blind, said that this move by the Government was long overdue. "We have waited long for that (the legislation) and I just wonder why anything that has to do with disability has to take so long," she said.

"But I am pleased that at long last something is being done," she said.

The man who has been pressing for the legislation, and who is also a disabled person, Senator Morris, said that he would be relentless in having the legislation enacted.

"I am issuing a warning to the stakeholders that I am very impatient and will make sure that this legislation is brought to the floor as quickly as possible," he said.

End of article.

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