Kenya is set to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of People With Disabilities (PWDs) in Africa.
According, a communique from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, headed by Cabinet Secretary Amb Ukur Yatani, this Protocol was necessitated by pragmatic and institutional realities in Africa coupled by high prevalence of disability on the continent. Already, Kenya is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDs – UNCRP.
The AU through Heads of States and Governments through an assembly decision of January 2018, adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of PWDs in Africa.
In the recent Global Disability Summit held in London, Kenya which co-hosted it, several far-reaching commitments were made, one of which was to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights particularly the Rights of PWDs in Africa.
A communique from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection through the State Department of Social Protection, Pensions and Senior Citizens Affairs has divulged Kenya’s intention to ratify the Protocol of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights especially on the Rights of PWDs in Africa.
The Kenyan constitution also acknowledges PWDs as a special vulnerable group whose rights needs to be upheld and be treated with respect and dignity.
As a result, the government introduced disability mainstreaming as a target in the annual performance contracting in the public service. All ministries, departments and state corporations are expected to have annual targets to mainstream disability issues.
Before proceeding to London for the Summit, Kenya held a ‘mini summit’ bringing together state and non-state actors and came up with a ‘position paper’. This position paper formed the basis of commitments which Kenya made during the Summit.
One of the key commitments was to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of PWDs in Africa. Many organizations and governments have taken a keen interest in Kenya due to the progressive and far reaching commitments made.
Further, the national PWD policy forms a basis for provision of services and protection to Persons with Disabilities while according them an inclusive environment conducive for the enjoyment of their right to life, freedoms, liberties and pursuit of happiness.
This policy was as a result of several years of intense, wide and exhaustive consultations involving government departments, persons with disabilities, organizations of persons with disabilities; parents’ support groups and other stakeholders. This policy draws heavily from National, Regional and International experiences by Government and various other stakeholders.
The Persons with Disabilities Act of 2003, which is currently under review, was brought into effect in June 2004. Its current review is meant to align it to the constitution of Kenya and bring it up to speed with the current realities in Kenya and the world today.
The Kenya Vision 2030 of 2008 recognises disability mainstreaming as one of the flagship projects under the Social Pillar.
The first medium term plan of the vision established the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, the Cash Transfers to Persons with Severe Disabilities and Guidelines for compliance of the 5 percent provision for Persons with Disabilities in employment.
Kenya is an influential regional powerhouse in the East African region. No African country has ratified this protocol so far and requires ratification of 15 member states in order for it to come into force. Having been a co-host at the Global Disability Summit, Africa may be looking at Kenya to show direction on this matter.
Kenya has a robust Policy and legislative framework on disability. Some Ministries, Departments and Agencies and also various institutions and organisations have developed their individual policies and programs on 4 disability.
Indeed, Kenya has made tremendous strides on this front.Whereas this is acknowledged, it should be appreciated that Disability is a versatile and dynamic field which cuts across cultures and national & international boundaries.
Therefore, Kenya is not safe till the region and Africa is safe from violence against PWDs. Given the unique challenges facing PWDs in Africa, it is in the interest of Kenya that Kenya ratifies and also lobbies other countries to do the same.
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