The Canadian government-funded project Improving Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) recently released its “Report on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities in CARICOM Countries”. This report provides an overview of the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its accompanying protocols, as implemented by the following 11 CARICOM Member States: Antigua and Barbuda , Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
The report is also an extension of the scope of the 2017 project study, which was designed to examine the issue of access to justice for persons with disabilities in OECS Member States only. This 2017 study also served as the basis for the creation of the project’s series of protocols and guidelines for those in the justice sector who work with people with disabilities.
Regarding the new study, one of the main features of this report is the analysis of the results of the project’s survey on access to justice for people with disabilities in the Caribbean conducted in 2020. In analyzing these results, the report draws attention, in the words of people with disabilities, to how they access justice in relation to society at large. The issues highlighted in the responses of those who took part in the survey reveal persistent gaps in access to the buildings in which people with disabilities do business, including courthouses; the need for amenities such as disabled-accessible bathrooms; better transportation arrangements; and accommodation for the hearing and visually impaired. Ultimately, the responses show the need for further interventions that would empower people with disabilities to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others.
IMPACT Justice hopes that this study will be useful for the information it provides to policy makers, the general public and those responsible for the justice sector on the opinions of persons with disabilities on the way they are treated in general and by the justice sector. Justice.
Furthermore, it is hoped that the findings of this report will strengthen regional governments in their resolve to enact legislation setting out the rights of persons with disabilities in accordance with the UN Convention.
In the near future, the project will release another report that will analyze cases brought before the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to show how the Committee has addressed the myriad barriers that people with disabilities face in accessing justice. .
In addition to this work, the project has also undertaken a study on access to justice for older people in CARICOM countries which it hopes to complete in the coming months. (PR)