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Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa

On the International Day of People with Disabilities (3 Dec) campaigners across Africa are urging their governments to ratify a new human rights treaty which could transform disability rights.

Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, in partnership with the African Union (AU), African Disability Alliance (ADA), African Union for the Blind and the African Disability Forum, is calling for AU member governments to ratify (legally adopt) the African Disability Protocol (ADP). The protocol is the first human rights treaty that addresses forms of discrimination affecting people with disabilities living in African countries, such as harmful practices, beliefs, and superstitions.

The ADP was adopted in 2018 by the AU, but for it to come into force across the continent at least 15 Member States must ratify it. Only 12 have ratified the ADP so far.

Once it comes into force, the ADP will ensure that member countries have a duty to create and enact disability-specific laws and policies in line with the treaty. It will also allow their citizens to hold them to account. This will benefit the more than 80 million people with disabilities who live in Africa and who still face a number of human rights challenges.

Lefhoko Kesamang, Senior Social Welfare Officer at the AU Commission, said, “People with disabilities in Africa must be protected by specific laws which cater to their needs. The ratification of the ADP by governments will demonstrate their commitment to the rights of people with disabilities and their value as equal members of society. African leaders need to ratify the ADP to ensure equal rights for all.”

Andrew Kudakwashe (AK) Dube, Chief Executive Officer of ADA, said, “The African Disability Protocol is a critical step forward for in protecting the rights and dignity of people with disabilities across Africa. Now is the time to take action and tackle the discrimination and inequality millions of people with disabilities still face. We urge governments to step up and take the lead in creating an equal more accessible Africa by ratifying the ADP”.

Unlike other international treaties, such as the UN Disability Convention, the ADP addresses the specific and unique forms of discrimination that affect people with disabilities living in African countries. For example, people with albinism in some African countries are at risk of being kidnapped, injured or murdered as their body parts are seen as having magical properties. In other countries, there are widespread misconceptions that disability is a curse or punishment from God. The ADP addresses both if these issues. 

Edwinah Orowe, Regional Campaign Advisor for Sightsavers, said, “The Equal World campaign commends governments across Africa for the efforts they have made so far towards protecting and advancing disability rights. We urge them to take the final steps to ratify the ADP so that the lives of millions of people with disabilities can be improved.”

The #RatifyTheADP campaign is organised by Sightsavers’ Equal World Campaign They are working alongside disability organisations, campaigners, and champions across Africa who are calling on their governments to ratify the ADP and protect the rights of people with disabilities across the continent.

For more information on the Equal World campaign and the call to ratify the ADP, please visit: www.ratify-the-ADP.org

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