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THE RIGHT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES TO PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS: A Challenge For Jibore Impeccable Foundation

Abstract

The concept of disabilities has undergone changes in recent years and disability is no longer a mere physical deformity. It includes activity limitations, stigma, discrimination, and social or political participation restrictions. In addition to the presence of an illness or impairment, the understanding of disability now explores the relationship between disease, illness and impairment, the persons functioning within daily activities and social roles, and the social, cultural, and physical environments that enable or limit an individual’s ability to participate fully in his or her community.

It also recognizes the role of physical and social environmental factors in affecting disability outcomes and has shifted the focus from the cause of disability to its effect, thereby emphasising the role of the environment, that is, social factors such as cultural, environmental, and political.

Aim

The aim of this article is to showcase the activities and challenge of Jibore impeccable foundation toward people living with disabilities by way of sensitising their political freedom through educational sponsoring.

The foundation aim to help several disabled people in achieving their educational career to enable them to be away of their political freedom, this presentation will also be aiming to address the relevant of article under the international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and provide a way forward for the foundation in archiving her Mission and Vision.

Introduction

On May, 2008, the United Nation (UN) Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) came into force. Till date 106 states have ratified the convention, those that have ratified the convention are referred to as “states parties,” while 153 states have signed the convention and 63 states have ratified the Optional Protocol (OP). It is the first international human rights convention to be ratified by the European Union and Nigeria has signed and ratified both the convention and its Optional Protocol respectively.

The convention represents a huge step forward for people with disabilities all over the world. It represents the shift from traditionally held views on disability and people with disabilities, to recognition of their rights which are the same as everyone else in their communities and countries.

The convention also recognised the vibrant and active disabled persons’ organisations that have been in existence for a long time. The convention has generated many expectations, hopes and aspirations. It is also generating debates on the concepts of rights and social justice in the field of disability, in particular on the differing understanding and application of these concepts in the developed and developing world.

Background

Disability is a human rights issue. People with disabilities experience inequalities. For example, when they are denied equal access to health care, employment, education, or political participation because of their disability.

People with disabilities are subject to violations or abuse of dignity of human person. For example, when they are subjected to violence, abuse, prejudice, or disrespect because of their disability and some people with disability are confined in institutions against their will, or are regarded as legally incompetent because of their disability.

The society seen people living with disabilities as threats due to their physical dysfunction and some culture in the society are not friendly with people living with disabilities. There are range of international, regional documents and domestic laws which have highlighted that disability is a human rights issue, this documents includes: The World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled People (1982), The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities (1993), The African Protocol on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (2018), and Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (prohibition) Act 2018.

The Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the most recent, and the most extensive recognition of the human rights of persons with disabilities outlines the civil, cultural, political, social, and economic rights of persons with disabilities. Its purpose of the convention is to “promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

The right to political participation can be read alone and together with other crosscutting provision of the convention. These crosscutting provisions include articles 3 and 5 of CRPD. Article 3 of the convention provides for the principles that apply in the convention. Some of the principles applicable to the right to political participation include the respect of inherent dignity. Must legislation in Africa countries takes away the dignity of persons with disabilities from voting or being voted for. Sometimes the law in some countries calls them ‘lunatics’ thereby deny them political freedom.

Article 5 on the other hand, provides for equality and non-discrimination. This article is important to political participation because most African countries operate laws that discriminate disabled people either directly or indirectly during pre and post election. Importantly the article states that failure to provide reasonable accommodation amounts to discrimination. Essentially the right to political participation must be guaranteed through reasonable accommodations.

Article 29 of the CRPD and section 30 of Discrimination against persons with disabilities prohibition Act 2018 can be read conjointly both provision sets out the mechanism of protecting the right to political participation and public life for persons with disabilities. Article 29 encompasses broad notions of participation in public and political life. This means that there is political participation in terms of the right to vote and be voted as stipulated by article 29(a) of CRPD.

The importance of the right to vote and be voted cannot be underestimated and such rights cannot be taken away from people living with disabilities, and such attempt could amount to crime against humanity.
This right not only ensures equality of opportunity but also allows full participation and inclusion of person with disabilities in society. Persons with disabilities are able to assert their individual autonomy through this right. This autonomy is closely related to recognition before the law and freedom to make ones choices.

States are therefore required to guarantee that all eligible persons have the opportunity to exercise voting rights, through adoption of positive measures. Furthermore, states are required to make the right to vote a reality by making polling stations accessible, facilitating the use of assistive devices to enable person with disabilities to vote independently, and special recognition during election.

Article 29(b) requires states to promote actively, an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively participate in the public and political affairs of their country on equal basis with others non-disabled people without discrimination. This means that people with disabilities are entitled to participate in all aspects of political and public aspect in their respective countries, society, community, and organisations of their choices.

This can be achieved through participation in law and policy reform where people with disabilities are able to make and influence changes in society in areas like education, health and employment and as well as any palliative disbursement either by the federal, state, and local government.

The same article 29(b) imposes a positive obligation upon states like encouraging active involvement of persons with disabilities in political parties and organisations dealing with public and political life. Importantly the convention as a whole is anchored on full and equal participation of persons with disabilities to ensure full inclusion in the society.

Right Of Persons With Disability

People with disabilities need to be actors in the process of political participation because people with power make decisions and as such the voice of the disabled people matter a lot in any democratic government. The active involvement of people with disabilities in political participation within their community or at national level will change a lot of misconception about their impairment.

Active involvement in the political game of their country would enable people with disabilities to become actors in every decision-making and policy mainstreaming in the general public affairs and in their specific desires.

It must be noted that democracy is about numbers, and there are more than 25 millions of people living with various forms of disabilities, this opportunity will equally, share a considerable number in the country’s population must be facilitated to realise their political power.

States should not just repeal laws, but enact disability sensitive laws that recognise right to vote for persons with disabilities and state should also provide a reasonable conducive accommodation to exercise their political freedom. People with disabilities also have the right to be elected and to hold any political or administrative post and this will serve as an avenue to show case their ability in disabilities.

The right to be elected can be realised when long term and urgent accommodative measure are included to minimise the barriers. To this end, regular and consistent disability sensitisation programmes should be disseminated to the community and its leadership as a first step. This effort requires long term commitments through legislative, administrative and policy programmes including advocacy and civic and human rights literacy educational strategies.

Challenges Of Persons With Disability

There are several reasons and challenges people living with a disability face day-to-day activities either within their community or environment, these challenges are negative stereotypes, discrimination and stigmatisation. It is high time for people with disability not to be demoralised with such human challenge.

Many see disabilities as a sign of weakness, incompetence, which can be exceptionally challenging in the world of politics and public participation where power and strength are basic values. A political campaign or career also has its specific challenges for a disabled person. One of the many issues is accessibility such as buildings and venues don’t have access ramp, or wheelchair-users are very much at a disadvantage even the political community can also be quite discriminative and exclusive, because they fear that disabled people will set back their campaign.

The Way Forward For The Foundation

The founder Mrs. Joy Bolarin, a physical challenge woman with unstoppable spirit of making life better for people with disabilities through her personal assistance and from the support of private individual who believe in her mission and vision, thus the foundation has engaged the member of the public on awareness on the rights of people with disabilities in kwara state through her personal fund and as well as donation from private individual.

This however, has made the foundation to had series of radio programme in sensitising the fundamental freedom of the rights of the people living with disabilities in the state.

Although, the foundation has a long way to go in inculcating the importance of political freedom to her members, and what it stand to achieved not only on charitable donation but on full inclusion of fundamental freedom to participate in political affair of the state.

Conclusion

Jibore impeccable foundation has a big and achievable project which will touch life of the many disabled people in the state, and to achieve this, finance is the challenge. The foundation has not gotten any financial assistance from the state or local government; all it depends is private individual donation, and this call for the need to engage various state actors to realised her mission and vision and how to use human right instrument in the promotion, protection and enforcement of their fundament human rights.

The foundation is looking forward from generous public and private sectors in assisting the foundation in her mission and vision. We anticipate your support with your help. Your Donation can save a soul.

Meet The Lecturer

A.R Ahmed Esq.
Legal Adviser to Jibore Impeccable Foundation
Email
+234 8066929760
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