Disability rights and needs in the Solomons

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DEAR EDITOR, in a press statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in September 2015 it was stated that the SIG could ratify the UN Treaty for the Protection of Persons with Disability (CPRD)

The PM at the time, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, made the statement when speaking with Casper Fa’asala, the President of People with Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI)

The then PM was told the PWDSI was  wishing  to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities and the UN convention clearly identifies the rights of persons with disability and sets out obligations for state parties to promote, protect and uphold those rights.

Mr. Fa’asala also reportedly reminded Mr. Sogavare that the Solomon Islands Government had accepted the recommendation to ratify the CRPD in 2011, based on a report to various international institutions by the PWDSI on the situation of human rights of people with disability in Solomon Islands, but no action had taken.

Mr. Fa’asala added, the Government could be committed to protecting, promoting and upholding the rights of people with disability in Solomon Islands and it would only be by the ratification of the convention by the Solomon Islands Government that other instruments to implement the convention in Solomon Islands could be pursued. 

“If we do not ratify that convention, it will be hard for us to domesticate the obligations therein.

 “We cannot just wait until the instruments come before ratifying the convention. It does not fall in that protocol,” Mr. Fa’asala had explained to Mr. Sogavare.

It is understood Mr. Sogavare then said, “Ratification of the CRPD can be done in Solomon Islands and transmitted to the UN.  Furthermore any decision by the government to ratify this convention does not even need to be approved by Parliament. All we need is a Cabinet Paper for endorsement by Cabinet and we will proceed to be a signatory to the CRPD.”

It is with the greatest respect, now in 2018, that I ask the incumbent Prime Minister, the Honourable Rick Hou, and his administration when will the Solomon Islands Government move towards the ratification of the CPRD?

I pose the question because as soon as the CPRD is ratified the possibility exists of the PWDSI obtaining funds from the Disability Rights Fund to further projects in support of local disabled persons and to better accord them the human rights dignity they deserve in life.

At the time of writing, the Solomon Islands Deaf Association, with over 100 members, gets very little recognition and struggles to maintain its programmes for the deaf.

In March, the Association received a generous cash donation from Mr. Alfrence Fatai, a Councillor for Vura Ward.

At the time of making his donation, Mr. Fatai said “Though they are disabled in terms of speaking or hearing, they have all the right as normal humans to enjoy and be part of our society, and I wish them the best in their future” he added.

I add my thanks to Mr. Fatai for his support of the deaf community.

Thanks are also due to the Solomon Islands Red Cross Association and to the San Isidro at Aruligo, as well as other individuals and organizations for extra support.

It would be very much appreciated if more people would offer cash donations to the Deaf Association to facilitate the Association’s administration and support programmes.

I was very pleased to read most recently that the U.K. government has said its new funding to the Pacific would “support human rights institutions to meet international standards and help improve governance. Women, young people, persons with disabilities, and other minority groups will all benefit.”

I very much look forward to the British Government’s continued help to persons with disabilities in the Solomon Islands, especially as, it seems, there is likely to be more funding available.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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