instead of leaving their welfare in the hands of private actors.
They also criticized the proposed PWD Bill 2014, describing it as worse than the PWD Act 2006 that it seeks to repeal.
While presenting their proposed amendments to the bill to parliament’s committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development, coalition members led by Makerere University law don Kabumba Businge said: “The current bill strips away any language of obligation from the state in meeting the education, health information and other needs of the PWDs.”
Businge added that the bill is silent on what the state should do on issues such as providing inclusive education to PWDs, and on the doctrine of reasonable accommodation for PWDs. “Given that, it’s better to stay where we are until we know that the law will offer a better deal.”
Similarly, Mr. Ambrose Murangira, the executive director of Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) and coalition coordinator, said: “In many ways, this Act was drafted in vague and imprecise language, which doesn’t articulate the agencies or persons bound to fulfill a number of the guarantees therein.”
Murangira added that given the central role of the state in preservation and violation of rights, it is misleading to put a lot of emphasis on non-state actors while being silent on the role of the state itself in this.
At the heart of this, is a fear by government of the cost implications of passing a pro-PWD bill, according to coalition members.
It is these fears that Mr. Murangira sought to address when he said that with a good PWD law, aligned to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWDs (CRPD), there are many agencies that will be interested in funding major provisions in the bill because of the centrality of the PWD issues.
“Passing a pro-PWD bill will in itself help in resource mobilization because we are representing over six million people,” he told MPs through a sign language interpreter.
While receiving the bill, committee members lead by acting committee chairperson Hon. Baba Diri promised to organize a workshop that will study the recommendations of the coalition members.
PWDs share experiences
During the interface with the legislators, several PWDs also shared lived experiences of suffering because of a bad legal regime.
Speaking on behalf of albinos, Hassan Mulondo, the chairperson of Albino Association of Uganda (AAU), said many albinos continue to die because of lack of access to a sunscreen cream that protects them from the sun.
“We know that as human beings we will die but let us die because of natural causes and not because of a disability,” he told MPs, revealing that last year his group lost five albinos in Ntungamo, Kayunga and Lira because of skin cancer-related complications.
The NRM retreat at Kyankwanzi recently said government must provide albinos with sunscreen cream.
He said that the said cream costs between Shs 40,000 to Shs 60,000 and one would require at least one tube per month, which he said is unaffordable to most albinos.
Under the new law, his group wants to ensure availability and affordability of this cream in all hospitals.
“For us, we are not Ugandan citizens because we have IDs, but when we have that cream,” he added.
For her part, Laurah Kanushu, the executive director of Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities Uganda (LAPD), said lack of sign language services in learning institutions, the media and judiciary gravely affects PWDs.
She cited a court case involving a deaf person that delayed because there were no sign language interpretation services in the court.
“Later when we brought in our sign language interpreter, the court rejected him. Access to justice is important; so, when we see it lacking in the bill, it bothers us. We don’t want the bill to take us back.”