Commission on Disability launched
The National Commission on Disability was officially launched and its members introduced, during a simple ceremony on Monday at the Regency Suites/Hotel.
The new members on the Commission are: Ms. Barbara Haley, Mr. Ganesh Singh, Ms. Margaret Lawrence, Mr. Sherwood Clarke, Ms. Zoya Crandon, Dr. Peter De Groot, Ms. Vidushi Persaud, Mr. Floyd Rudder, Ms. Evelyn Hamilton, Mr. Colin Ault, Ms. Barbara Lawrence and Mr. Prandatt Basdeo.
The launching was in accordance with Section 2 and 5 of the Persons with Disability Act and comprises members from the Ministries of Health, Education, Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Foreign Affairs and organizations representing persons with disabilities, human rights, organized labour and the private sector.
Some of the new commissioners were part of a body which this one replaced that essentially was not backed by law. In June 2010, the then President, Bharrat Jagdeo, was tasked with signing into law the Persons with Disabilities Act which provides for equal protection under the law. The act stipulates that “the National Commission on Disabilities shall comprise 12 members appointed by the president; it charges the commission with advising the government, coordinating actions on issues affecting persons with disabilities, and addressing implementation and monitoring of the act’s provisions”.
Addressing the gathering at the formal launch of the commission, President Donald Ramotar congratulated the outgoing members for a job well done while he charged the new members to continue the good work. The Head of State noted that disabled persons are the world’s largest minority, and hence they need to be given the opportunity to enjoy equal participation.
“Our constitution was amended to facilitate the rights of disabled persons and we must all recognize that persons with disabilities have needs, and my administration is highly supportive of the differently-able.”
The president further stressed the need for the rights of persons with disabilities to be respected, and for them to be treated equally as well as protected against discrimination in achieving their goals.
“Any form of discrimination against persons with disability will be doing harm to one’s self,” Ramotar asserted. He also made reference to several persons with disabilities who “made a name for themselves with international recognition”. He stressed that his Government will continue to give its support to the commission, as emphasis will be placed on capacity building and training.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Jennifer Webster, also lauded the efforts of the previous members while pledging her ministry’s support through the many services on offer. “We live in a society where there are many persons with disabilities and the lack of employment opportunities contribute to poverty, and as a result, persons with disabilities are deemed the most vulnerable.”
She called on all Guyanese to play their role in providing equal ground for persons with disabilities, highlighting the fact that those persons are also productive citizens and should be afforded opportunities to contributed to national development.
The Minister added that many persons with disabilities are experiencing barriers when it comes to seeking employment although they have the necessary qualifications. She emphasised “the need for all public buildings, offices to provide proper access so that persons with disabilities can enjoy the fundamental rights and freedom in our society and which will result in their enhancement”. Free access to transportation services was among other pertinent issues mentioned.
“We will continue to give support via our many services at the Ministry and these include providing support through our probation officers and the Child Care Protection Agency.”
The new commissioners will serve in their capacity for a period of three years, beginning April 1.