The Faculty of law of the University of Ghana on Monday, May 7, 2018, launched a short course on Access to Justice for Persons with Disability (PWDs) in collaboration with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) at the faculty of law auditorium. The aim of the course was to adopt a right-based approach to improve inclusivity and provide comprehensive access to justice for PWDs, either as direct or indirect participants and whether as crime, suspects, witnesses, plaintiffs, defendants, appellants, remand prisoners and or prison inmates.
Ms. Josephine Nkrumah, chairman for the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) chaired the program. In her remarks, Ms. Nkrumah expressed her gratitude to the organizers for recognizing the NCCE as a major stakeholder in this very important issue. According to her, the NCCE has over the years worked with Persons with Disability across the country in educating them on their civic rights and responsibilities. She stated that although there are several laws and policies as well as international treaties and conventions protecting the rights and duties of PWDs, they are still faced with several challenges. She wished all participants well and urged them to use the knowledge they will acquire in their respective endeavours.
Madam Mawuynor Yarkor Dagbah, Vice President of the Ghana Federation for the Disabled (GFD) delivering her speech commended the faculty of law and OSIWA for the great initiative. She stated that access to justice is crucial to persons with disabilities. To her, there are several barriers which hinder Persons with Disability from enjoying
their rights to justice. These include but not limited to inadequate legal aid, high cost of legal fees, inaccessible environment, long term memory loss, and lack of sign language interpreters.
Ms. Afia Asare Agyei, Program Manager of OSIWA mentioned that her institution was pleased to collaborate with the law faculty. She cautioned that we should be mindful of the language we use when referring to the PWDs, and in her part, however, she is making a conscious effort not to refer to them as handicapped because every disabled person has an ability. She mentioned that the law is a highly contested terrain and can be created, enlarged to suit the rights of the disabled.
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms.Otiko Afisah Djaba mentioned the barriers and the major stakeholders in accessing justice the PWDs.
Throwing more light on these barriers she stated that normative, attitudinal, information, communication, physical, and economic were few of the challenges they faced in relation to the justice system in Ghana. The Police, Lawyers, Service Providers, and the courts were the major stakeholders.
The course is scheduled to take place from Monday, May 7 to Friday 11 May 2018 at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana.