Disabled People’s Association Hosts IMPACT Justice Project

By Shermain Bique-Charles

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The head of the Disabled People’s Association of Antigua and Barbuda, Bernard Warner, hailed the latest IMPACT Caribbean justice project for people with disabilities, saying it’s a relief that a team of people other than the government can deal with the affairs of persons with disabilities here. .

The project recently released its “Report on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities in CARICOM Countries,giving an overview of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its accompanying protocols as implemented by Antigua and Barbuda and other CARICOM countries.

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.

Warner tells the Observer that although the Twin Island state ratified the convention many years ago, it has never really been implemented.

“I think this is an appropriate report. It has now been four years since the Disability Act was introduced in Parliament and it has yet to come into force,” Warner added.

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 is the analysis of the results of the analysis of the project Survey on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities in the Caribbean carried out in 2020.

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.

“Many of us face tremendous hardships, discrimination, tribulations in the workplace and in the community. This requires a political movement. I am not optimistic about Social Transformation Minister Dean Jonas’ decision, but I have faith in the system to one day fix the problem,” Warner explained.

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.

“We know there will be a team there that will help hold our government accountable to ensure that justice, equality and equal rights for people with disabilities are met,” said Warner.

Furthermore, it is hoped that the findings of the report will support regional governments in their determination 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. .

“We really want to see more discussion and more consultation and how this report can be used as a step to alleviate some of the challenges people with disabilities face here,” he added.

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.

Elna M. Lemons