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THE Disability Bill Of The Republic of The Gambia

The Disability Bill of The Republic Of The Gambia is the intended legislation upon which all Persons With Disabilities in The Gambia intend to rely in terms of respect, protection and promotion of their inherent,inalienable and fundamental rights and freedom.The said legislation can also be relied upon by Persons With Disabilitiesin the event of any encroachment of their rights through competent courts. The proposed Disability Bill of The Gambia is a powerful instrument that makes a number of provisions for the health care, social support, accessibility, education, promotion of human rights for persons with disabilities and other related matters. The said bill was drafted by the drafters from different sectors of expertees. The Bill has been in existence for almost a decade now.Since it has been drafted with a view to suit the fundamental rights and freedoms of Persons With Disabilities as encapsulated in the Constitution of The Gambia specifically set forth in Section (31) (1),(2) and (3)

After its draft,the said bill had undergone various consultations and validations by the Government agencies, ministeries and other stakeholders concerned. The Disability Bill after its draft has been lying down in one of the Government ministries for long waiting to be presented before the Law Makers at the National Assembly of The Gambia for enactment . The objective of the bill is to protect, promote and uphold the inherent, inalienable and fundamental human rights of Persons With Disabilities in The Gambia as encapsulated in section 31(1)(2) and (3) of the constitution of the Gambia and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities and also to domesticate the said United Nations Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities, alluded to section 112(k) of the act, As the Gambia has ratified the UN Convention in 2015.

After numerous engagements with the government of the Gambia and relevant stakeholders over the years, The Gambia federation of the disabled which is the umbrella body that brings together persons With Disabilities across the country has made a significant milestone achievement this year(2019) under the leadership of chairman Mohammed krubally with the support of the European union and article 19 which exists to defend Freedom of Expression and information by staging the first ever national stakeholder’s forum on Disabilities Bill. The forum brought together The Gambia Government Ministries in order to assess and know how prepared they are in order to take the Disabilities Bill seriously and present it before the National Assembly for enactment.

The specific objective of The forum also seeks to advocate for the review of national policies and legislation to eliminate or amend those that could entrench discrimination against Persons With Disabilities. The minister of information Mr ebrima sillah who deputized for the President Of The Republic Adama Barrow in this forum assured the Gambia Federation Of The Disabled of governments commitment to working with and supporting all endeavors geared towards uplifting the lives of persons with disabilities. He further assured them that the government with relevant stakeholders are working tirelessly for the bill to be enacted in September session of the National Assembly this year(2019)in the alternative, December session. By virtue of this promise by the Minister of Information, Mr. Ebrima Sillah on behalf of the President of the Republic, Persons With Disabilities with Gambia Federation of Disabled are with high expectations that if the bill is enacted and become a law, Persons With Disabilities will be better informed of their rights and understand what those rights and responsibilities involve at a personal level. Furthermore with the enactment of the bill Persons With Disabilities are assured of full social inclusion in the new dispensation of justice , participation and equality in The Gambia.

In fact, I can fully recall that, by virtue of the first National Stakeholder’s Conference organized by Gambia Federation of Disabled in collaboration with European Union, Article 19 with other partners, has indeed influenced the Gambia Government for the first time to come up with the issuance of a Cabinet Paper Template directed at the federation and Social Welfare Department as the line institution of the Federation to discuss and fill in relevant information to pave a road map for them to quickly present the Bill before the National Assembly Members. In fact in the numerous workshops which I had privilege to attend and met Members of Parliament therefrom, also made strong undertakings that, they will enact the Disability Bill.

In spite of all these promises made to the Federation that the said bill may be before the National Asembly, in the September session in the alternative December session , we are closely monitoring the progress of the sessions of the Assembly wherein, we noticed that, September session has passed without the presentation of the Disability Bill. As we fast approach the Month of December, just two months away, we are again optimistic that the Disability Bill will be before the National Assembly for enactment. If this is not done, the Gambia Federation of Disabled shall continue to push and advocate for the Bill until it is finally endosed as a legislation for Persons With Disabilities in The Gambia.

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