The Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN) is calling upon African Heads of State to take advantage of the mid-year meeting in Lusaka to take urgent steps to sign and ratify the African Disability Protocol. The protocol is a legal framework which was adopted in 2018 as the Disability Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter).
We call upon African Union (AU) member states including Zambia who have not yet ratified the protocol to do so to enable it to take effect considering the dire human rights situation of persons with disabilities on the continent. United Nations (UN) reports indicate that close to 100 million people are living with disabilities in Africa today. , Persons with disabilities are estimated at 10 percent of the general African population and as high as 20 percent in the poorer regions, according to Disability News. Many individuals with disabilities in Africa continue to be excluded from education and employment opportunities. They also lack access to health care services and descent housing among other key things.
We are aware that like Zambia, a number of countries on the continent have already adopted and domesticated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which is without a doubt, a comprehensive treaty that has helped bring about noteworthy improvements to disability communities the world over. However, the UNCRPD does not address the unique challenges that persons with disabilities and their communities face in ways that the African Disability Protocol does. The African Disability Protocol is unique to the continent in that it ensures that no one is actually left behind. It addresses issues of disability and discrimination through the African lens and in a holistic way.
The protocol is specific in addressing issues such as customs, traditional beliefs, harmful practices and the role of the family, caregivers and the community. It also tackles Community-Based Rehabilitation and minority groups within the African disability community, including people with albinism. Simply put, the African Disability Protocol is not only more rights-based, but also more detailed and illustrative in bringing out the uniqueness of the African context. Despite the richness of its content, the African Disability Protocol can come into effect only after it is signed and ratified by 15 member states of the AU. So far, 11 states have signed the Protocol and three (3) have ratified. It is important to appreciate the fact that the idea of an inclusive African community that leaves no one behind cannot be attained without ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy their rights and subsequently realize their potential.
We therefore urge Heads of state and representatives of governments present at the on-going AU Mid-year Coordination Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia to use this opportunity to also engage in discussions around signing and ratifying the African Disability Protocol so that it comes into effect and allow persons with disabilities to enjoy its provisions. GIVEN to the Press today the 15th Day of July 2022 the 2nd Day of the AU Mid-year Coordination Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia,