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Recognition for people living with disability, at last

‘MAKERESEMESE LETUKA

MASERU – The long-awaited domestication of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in Lesotho has finally been achieved.

After 12 years of ratification of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Lesotho on March 12 2021 domesticated this treaty through the Enactment of Persons with Disability Equity Act No 24 of 2021.

The domestication of this treaty, which recognizes and protects the rights of people with disabilities, has not only brought the long lost hope to the disabled community of Lesotho but is a life changing milestone for both disabled and non- disabled.

The Act is a result of great advocacy initiatives by disabled people’s organizations and other national human rights NGOs, media houses as well as the great collaboration of the Ministry of Social Development and other stakeholders in ensuring that the provisions of this Act benefit the disabled community in line with human rights standards prescribed under the UNCRPD and chapter 1 and 2 of the Constitution of Lesotho 1993.

The Act introduces the new social perspective of disability as well as human rights approach to disability issues.

It, however, doesn’t necessarily introduce new or special human rights for this group but prescribes how human rights apply to people with disabilities.

It introduces among others, the disability advisory council whose main function is to advice of how different stakeholders should make adjustments and modifications in ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy their rights on equal basis with other non- disabled people.

Also found in the Act is the provision relating to the establishment on the public fund on disability which shall be necessary for financing projects empowering the disabled community and the provision introducing the disability grant and the care dependency grant which shall mitigate for the disability related cost suffered by its recipients.

Advocacy and Human Rights Officer Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LANFOD), ‘Makatleho ‘Molotsi, says this law is going to help a lot especially people with disabilities and those who take care of them because their rights have been compromised in a very long time.

“My team and I have worked so hard for this law and for it to finally become a success is such a break through, I am very thankful to all stake holders we partnered with.

This is law is going to end a lot discrimination and also advocate for a lot of rights to people with disability such as freedom of speech, right to education and right to access of services,” she continues.

In terms of this Act, people with disabilities have a right to choose their residential area and the forced institutionalization is prohibited, a step considered a milestone achieved by the and which impacts positively on the rights of people with disabilities and.

A person living with disability with this paper spoke said he was very happy as this will end a lot stigma and discrimination hurled at the.

He said their voices will be heard, and having funds such as the proposed disability trust fund for public support projects and dependency grant which is for people who take care of them means their lives will be a bit better.

“The cost of living for us is very high because we need special care and equipment and all those do not come cheap and now that there is law protecting us it means we will have advocacy in everywhere and which simplifies our lives.”

This law was firstly internationally introduced in 2008, it was made into a Bill in Lesotho in 2012, and was only enacted in 2021.

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