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Story Highlights

  • The Senate began debate on the Disabilities Act, today (October 3), which makes provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica.
  • Piloted by Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, the Bill seeks to ensure full and effective participation and inclusion in the society for persons with disabilities.
  • The main objectives of the Bill are: to reinforce and promote the recognition and acceptance within Jamaica of the principle that a person with a disability has the same fundamental rights as any other person; and to promote individual dignity and individual autonomy, including the freedom of choice and independence of a person who has a disability.

The Senate began debate on the Disabilities Act, today (October 3), which makes provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica.

Piloted by Minister of Justice, Senator  the Hon. Mark Golding, the Bill seeks to ensure full and effective participation and inclusion in the society for persons with disabilities.

The Minister  said it is important that all push for the changes necessary to enable the greater inclusion for persons with disabilities into the society.

“The legal framework to support the push will now exist for the first time in our history as the legislation will provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against persons with disabilities,” Senator Golding said.

The main objectives of the Bill are:  to reinforce and promote the recognition and acceptance within Jamaica of the principle that a person with a disability has the same fundamental rights as any other person; and to promote individual dignity and individual autonomy, including the freedom of choice and independence of a person  who has a disability.

Other objectives include promoting respect for differences; and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity.  The law also facilitates the establishment of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Disabilities Rights Tribunal.

 

 

In terms of buildings, Clause 37 of the Bill ensures that in constructing any public or commercial premises, it will be readily accessible to, and usable by a person with a disability; it will be built in accordance with the National Building Code, and is designed in such a way as to make the common areas accessible to a person with a disability.

“There continues to be a shortage of housing for persons with disabilities and this has prompted this administration to do its part in ensuring that housing is reserved for persons with disabilities in National Housing Trust Schemes. We are also appealing to developers within the private sector to partner with the government in offering housing solutions to persons with disabilities,” Senator Golding said.

For his part, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator A.J. Nicholson, noted that the passage of the legislation will help to lift Jamaica’s profile in the international arena.

“The Convention places a duty on State parties to take measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental rights and freedoms on equal basis with other children. Children with disabilities have no less rights, privileges, interests and benefits than children without disabilities,” Senator Nicholson said.

Opposition Senator ,Tom Tavares Finson, said the Bill is an important piece of legislation and “one which would merit the description, historic.”

Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the Senate on Friday, October 10.