Securing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

(ZIZ)–Caregivers of persons living with disabilities are gathering this week to look at how they, along with government and social partners can improve the lives of people with disabilities.

In December of 2012, UNESCO granted the Ministry Of Community Development funds to undertake a project entitled, “Human Rights Sensitization, Policy and Programs for Persons Living with Disabilities.”

On Monday, the ministry began a three-day consultation on issues impacting persons living with disabilities.

The consultation brought together ministry officials, caregivers, social partners, parents and other family members of persons living with disabilities.

Director of Community Development, Azilla Clarke says overall St Kitts and Nevis has a relatively good account of its affairs of persons living with disabilities, but there is room for improvement.

“There are some key gaps,” she said. “Such as the legislation that speaks specifically to persons with disabilities; an Anti-Discrimination Act which speaks to eliminating all forms of discrimination against persons and then working on some standards by which persons with disabilities should not feel as though they have to be specially afforded but have those rights assured at the beginning.”

Permanent secretary in the Ministry Of Community Development, Sharon Rattan says they are hoping this project can help to turn people’s compassion for persons with disabilities into a spirit of living with dignity for all.

“In order for us to achieve this, we have to have a clear understanding and appreciation of the wide range of disabilities which exist both mental and physical so that their needs can be met,” Rattan said.

She says the goal of the project is to have the federation sign on to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“From all of this consultation we expect the issues to be highlighted and to get the best advice for St Kitts-Nevis in terms of the signing and the ratification of this international convention. In doing so, we are recognizing that much more still needs to be done to realize full integration of persons with disabilities into society,” she said.

The two key objectives of this project are to promote awareness about the disabled persons in the federation and to change the mind-set of people in relation to the population of persons living with disabilities.

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