Representative of the World Health Organization, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu has on behalf of the Executive Representative of the UN Secretary-General (ERSG), on the 1st National Consultative Conference in Freetown, observed that persons with disabilities should not be viewed as ‘object of charity’
In applauding the efforts made so far towards the formulation of the National Disability Act, the ERSG noted that the Act deals with human rights issues that ensure full participation of people with disabilities in all spheres of life.
“We should respect the paradigm shift in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities should not be viewed as object of charity ,medical treatment and social protection , but rather as subjects with rights capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives; based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society” he averred.
The Act, he noted, gives universal recognition to the dignity of persons with disabilities. He pledged their support as a family in the UN towards a partnership with Government and other agencies in ensuring that the UN Convention on the rights of disabled persons be implemented.
On the 3rd day of May 2008, the UN Convention and its optional protocol on the rights of persons with disabilities came into force.
That momentous occasion, he said, was celebrated on 12th May 2008 at the UN Headquarters in New York by member States, Civil Society and the UN system.
The UN Convention on persons with disabilities, he added, was the first comprehensive human rights treaty in the 21st Century and the first legally binding international instrument on disability.
He concluded that stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities remain common in all societies; and women with disabilities often experience double discrimination.