The East African Community will establish the Regional Council for People with Disabilities in the Financial Year 2016/17, Uganda’s Minister for East African Affairs has said.
Alhajji Kirunda Kivejinja, who represented the EAC Council of Ministers and is also the Ugandan Third Deputy Prime Minister, made the revelation in Arusha during the passing of legislation granting Persons with Disabilities with full protection to enjoy their rights as enjoyed by other citizens of the region.
Moved by Hon Dr James Ndahiro, the East African Community Persons with Disability Bill, 2015, is premised under Article 120 (c) of the EAC Treaty, and in his justification Dr Ndahiro said it was necessary for PWDs to access all the infrastructure within their social systems.
The debate on the Bill was preceded by the Report of the Committee on General Purpose on the same subject matter presented by the Chairperson, Hon Dr Odette Nyiramilimo.
The report was a culmination of public hearings held in the Partner States and it followed intensive consultation with various stakeholders. The Committee also observed that the Partner States largely agreed on most provisions of the Bill which were among others need for assessment and interventions at all levels including pre-school inclusiveness education, sensitisation and awareness raising, equal opportunities and affirmative action.
The Committee further seeks the provision of tax exempted free mobile assisted devices, learning materials, need for disaggregated data by disability groupings, vulnerability and marginalization, as well as a financial assistance through cash transfers grants and various specific amenities.
During debate Hon Abubakar Zein noted that the rights of PWDS amounts to human rights. He challenged the Assembly to amend its Standing Orders to ensure the rights of all PWDs was also taken into consideration.
Hon Dora Byamukama remarked that a timeframe was necessary to determine when the Council of Ministers establishes a Regional Council for People with Disabilities. The legislator said data and statistics collection on matters around PWDs were key for consideration as it enhances decision making.
Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye said the treatment of PWDs in society needs to change, while Hon Christophe Bazivamo termed the passage of the Bill as timely.
Others who supported the debate included EALA MPs Emerence Bucumi, Frederic Ngenzebuhoro, AbuBakr Ogle, Hafsa Mossi, Judith Pareno and Isabelle Ndahayo. Dr Martin Nduwimana and Mike Sebalu also supported the Bill.