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MLS criticises government over Disability Act

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The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said government has not done much to implement Disability Act which was enacted in 2012.

Among other things, the act aims at reducing challenges that people with disabilities are facing.

It provides for establishment of a Disability Trust Fund and a National Coordinating Committee on Disability Issues.

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The act also provides for administrative penalties for individuals, companies and organisations deemed to have infringed upon the rights of people with disabilities in the country.

MLS President John Suzi-Banda said nothing much has been done on the ground since the act came into being.

“In our opinion, there has been no commitment on the part of government to ensure that the provisions of the act are implemented, for example there is supposed to be a stakeholders committee which the government is supposed to set but it has not done this,” Suzi-Banda said.

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He added that the yet-to-be-set committee would be critical in ensuring that rights of people with disabilities are protected.

According to Suzi- Banda, MLS will continue engaging government to ensure that implementation of the provisions of the disability act starts soon.

“We have no reason to think that government will continue delaying in implementing this important piece of legislation but we will continue engaging the responsible ministry to ensure that the provisions are followed,” said Suzi- Banda adding that” it really does not make sense to have a progressive act like this one without implementation.”

In a written response, Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare spokesperson Lucy Bandazi said the act is now fully operational.

“Indeed, the act provides for the establishment of the Disability Trust Fund and the fund was established. Consultations were done and processes to ensure that it becomes fully operational are under way. Infact, a team went to Kenya to learn from them on how they made their trust fund operational,” said Bandazi.

Although Bandazi acknowledged that the National Coordinating Committee on Disability Issues is yet to become fully operational, she said government already approved the proposal for the structure of the committee.

She said there is a steering committee at principal secretaries’ level and a technical committee at the directors’ level.

“It must be noted, however, that the ministry does not have prosecution powers but the policy implementation demands that rights holders know their rights and demand them where they are violated,” she said.

Malawi has been experiencing attacks on persons with albinism and experts have said implementation of the act could help in reducing the malpractice.

Currently, government has trained police prosecutors and magistrates on the law.

The ministry is also working on the dissemination of the law in easy-to-read formats including a Braille version.

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