THE minister of Social Development, ‘Matebatso Doti, has finally tabled the disability equity draft bill to Parliament.
Ms Doti tabled the draft on 31 August 2018, the same day when Parliament resumed sitting. The document was drafted in 2015 in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which the country ratified on 02 December 2008.
Although Ms Doti could not be reached for comment this week, in a previous interview with the Lesotho Times, she said she was confident that if passed into law, the bill would answer several challenges faced by people living with disability.
The draft bill comprises of an array of legal rights of persons living with disabilities including rights of access to services including health, the provision of education and the creation of the Disability Advisory Council.
The Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) this week hailed Ms Doti’s efforts in tabling the draft bill before Parliament.
LNFOD executive director Advocate Nkhasi Sefuthi said the tabling of the bill marks a paradigm shift in Lesotho from where people living with disabilities will become rights holders capable of exercising their human rights on an equal basis with others.
“She deserves credit for her efforts,” Adv Sefuthi said.
“The enactment of the bill into an act of parliament will undoubtedly contribute to the human rights advancement of people living with disabilities and promote their inclusion in the public and private sector. It will give people living with disabilities power to claim and enforce their rights and participate effectively in the decision-making processes.”
Adv Sefuthi said what is left is for them to appeal to the Social Cluster committee in Parliament to review the bill bearing in mind the barriers faced by people living with disabilities in terms of access to the social services, access to information and physical infrastructure, education, employment and independence.
He said LNFOD would now appeal to the Parliament and the Senate to consider the draft bill mindful of the long time it has taken the executive to complete it.
“LNFOD will monitor the work of the Social Cluster committee in Parliament to ensure that the draft is enacted into law in full compliance with the UNCRPD until it is enacted into law,” Adv Sefuthi said.