The Lesotho National Federation of Organiations of the Disabled (LNFOD) on behalf of the disabled community of Lesotho has welcome the newly enacted Persons with Disabilities Equity Act of 2021.
The Executive Director of LNFOD Advocate Nkhasi Sefuthi, indicated that the community of disabled persons was involved in the formation of the Law and that they are very thankful that at the end the law has passed before the parliament.
“We are happy about the law particularly where it talks about the formation of the Council for the disabled. The council has legal powers and through it disabled persons will be able to voice their complaints if they feel their rights are being violated,” he said.
LNFOD expressed its appreciation to the Minister of Social Development and her staff particularly the legal department, the two houses of parliament, disabled people organisations, national human rights NGOs and all the other stakeholders who contributed towards the enactment of the law.
Sefuthi also indicated that the council will also promote the rights of persons with disabilities, and also will give advisory opinion on any issues on behalf of the disabled.
“The council also has legal powers to instruct public service providers to work towards catering for disabled persons at their places of services and if that is not looked into the disabled person will have a platform where they can place their complaint,” he said.
According to the Persons with Disability Act of 2021 there is to be established a Persons with Disability Advisory Council, which shall be an advisory body to government on issues of disability.
“The Council is an autonomous body, the council is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property; sue and be sued and so far as is possible for a body corporate, exercise the rights, powers and privileges and incur the liabilities and obligations of a natural person of full age and capacity” Sefuthi said.
The functions of the council according to the Act include monitoring and evaluating issues concerning disability in Lesotho, advice on and adopt measures and standards concerning disability in Lesotho, monitor the situation of the rights of persons with disabilities in Lesotho and provide advice in expertise on disability rights to the Human Rights Commission where necessary, investigate and refer violations of human rights of a person with disability to the Human Rights Commission and if necessary, recommend to the Human Rights Commission, to institute proceedings against violation of disability rights in a court of law and gather opinions, recommendations, propositions and reports from the public and private institutions on disability rights issues using the media and other means.
On behalf of the Ministry of Social Development, Acting Disability Services Manager Retšelisitsoe Thoahlane, indicated that the Act is going to help in programs that are meant to help disabled persons as they have special needs.
“The Disability Equity Act is going to add on already existing laws towards the rights of the disabled persons like the Convention on the Rights of People living with disability as our country has ratified to that,” he said.
Thoahlane stated that it took them about eight years to prepare the law and for it to be passed before parliament.
“That took us this long because there were ups and down. There would be a time when there was a disagreement and sometimes we would have to look back for some time, and all that consumes time,” he said.
He also stated that in the development of this law the Ministry of Social Development worked hand-in-hand with different associations of living with disability, different ministries as well as the private sector.