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Commonwealth meet on disability

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The Commonwealth Secretariat and the National Human Rights Commission (N.H.R.C.) jointly organised a seminar on ‘Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Commonwealth’ in New Delhi on January 14.

Inaugurating the seminar, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment (M.S.J.E.) Mukul Wasnik said that a new legislation to replace the Disability Act of 1995 will be brought very soon.

Speaking in the inaugural session of the seminar, Dr. Purna Sen, Head of the Human Rights Unit (H.R.U.) at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said Governments are particularly responsible for integrating the needs of people with disabilities in all their work.

Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson of N.H.R.C. said the new Act should be in harmony with the provisions of U.N.C.R.P.D. and the definition of disability should be inclusive and conform to the human rights based model.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development, Shuaib Chalklen said that one of the key challenges that confront many countries is raising awareness on the rights of people with disabilities in society.

The seminar brought together representatives of state and national human rights and disability rights bodies from various Commonwealth nations to explore ways to promote the rights of disabled persons. Presentations were made by national human rights bodies and organisations dealing with disabilities from India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Given below is a summary of the recommendations:

1. Increased ratification of the U.N. Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Commonwealth;

2. Improved role and voice for disabled people in shaping initiatives;

3. Specially addressing areas of employment and education;

4. Strengthening of advocacy network.