On June 23, 2006, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) to serve as a road map to ensure that persons with disabilities in the country live in comfort and dignity. And on August 9, the same year, the President of Ghana Assented to the Bill to make it An Act of Parliament.
Act 715 created the National Council on Persons with Disability, established the Governing Body, enumerated the rights of persons with disabilities under Article 29 of the 1992 Constitution, implemented Article 171 of the 1992 Constitution so that Ghana ratified other International Human Rights; including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which Ghana has submitted its initial Report to the UN Committee.
Act 715 has impacted the lives of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are better informed about their rights, duty bearers are gradually coming to terms that persons with disabilities are people with equal rights and must be given equal opportunities. For instance, to mitigate the extra cost that comes with disability, persons with disabilities at the public and civil sector enjoy categories of disability allowances; some tertiary universities have Special Needs Units providing reasonable accommodation for effective campus life for students with disabilities. Specific policies are developed to ensure that persons with disabilities are part of development agenda. Persons with disabilities have being empowered against the backdrop that disability is part of human diversity.
But after fourteen years of its existence, portions of Act 715 have been found not in tune with new trends in society today, and also inadequate, in comparative analysis with the UN CRPD, which was ratified two years after the passage of the Act 715. It, therefore, became necessary for the law to be reviewed to conform to the UN CRPD.
On November 8 2019, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Cynthia Mamle Morison, inaugurated the Technical Committee to review the Act 715 and draft an accompanying legislative instrument.
The Technical Committee composed of representatives from Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Health & Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Justice and Attorney General Department, Head of the Drafting Unit – Attorney- General, The Special Education Division Ghana Education Service, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Judicial Service. The others include Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, the Academia / University of Ghana Legon, Centre for Employment of Persons with Disability, Special Mothers Project, Ghana Health Service (Child Health- Paediatric Neuro- Disability), University of Ghana, Department of Audiology – Speech and language Therapy, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies and the Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disability who provided strategic direction for the review process.
The committee was tasked to review the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) to comply with UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to facilitate the participation of persons with disabilities in the achievement of the sustainable development goals, prepare the Accompanying Legislative Instrument, work together with Consultants, consider proposed amendment submitted by organisations of persons with disabilities.
Within a period of eight months, the committee developed the Amendment Bill and Regulations and held nationwide broad consultation with 160 participants made up of Ministries, departments, agencies, the academia, civil society organisations that promote the interest of persons with disabilities, development partners, organizations of persons with disabilities, the private sector and the media.
The Persons with Disabilities Amendment Bill and Persons with Disabilities Regulations are currently being processed to be submitted to the Attorney General for legal drafting and presentation to parliament.
The review has been funded by Star Ghana.
By Esther Akua Gyamfi
(Executive Secretary, National Council on Persons with Disability)
Email: [email protected]