Muhammed Krubally, a rights advocate for persons living with disabilities, who doubles as Chairman of the Federation of the Disabled in The Gambia, is calling for more inclusion and implementation of the disability bill 2020, which gained momentum after been assented by the president to become a law.
The disability bill 2020, which the Justice Minister tabled in the 2020 legislative year, seeks to complement section 31 of the 1997 constitution in protecting persons with disabilities against all forms of discrimination. It was passed on July 6th and later awaits to be assented by the President.
Persons living the disabilities have long been advocating for the passage of the bill. They hope the coming of the bill would guarantee equal access and respect for their fundamental rights in the bill.
“The bill has been unanimously passed by the national assembly members and assented too by the president of the republic, said Krubally. So now, the Gambia Federation of the disabled is working on the popularization and implementation of the said bill because we feel now there exist the most guarantee legislation apart from the constitution of The Gambia that ensures respect, promotion, and protection of all fundamental rights and freedom.”
Krubally stresses that his federation would ensure that the bill is fully respected and popularize but worried about its implementation, “and we expect the government, non-governmental organizations, parastatals, individuals and other authorities to respect and uphold all the fundamental rights that are outlined in this particular bill.”
The Gambia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol on July 7, 2015.
By article 35 of the CRPD, states must initially report within two years of accepting the Convention and thereafter every four years. The Gambia, having ratified the convention in 2015, was supposed to submit its initial report in 2017. Still, up to date, no report has been submitted to the committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Our call to action for persons with disability is, first of all, to ensure a human rights-based approached to disability in The Gambia. Secondly, to facilitate the participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially those that are under-represented, women and children, and to make sure that participation and inclusion extend not only to urban areas but in the rural areas where we know in The Gambia the majority of the population is” said Yvonne Masarakufa UN Human Rights Officer.
The Gambia has not conducted any recent national disability survey. The last survey was in 1998, revealing that the overall disability prevalence rate was 1,6 percent of the population. This gives the national prevalence rate by gender of 17,4 and 13,9 percent 1000 of the population for males and females. Thus, the overall prevalence of disability in the Gambia, according to the 2013 population and housing census results, is 1,2 percent compared to 2,4 percent in 2003.
“There are always difficulties with persons with disabilities to access health care services in this country because most of the facilities are not disabled user friendly especially those in wheelchairs,” Yahya Bajo, President, National Union for the Disabled Youths, said.