A new committee has been launched to monitor and evaluate the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Barbados.

This in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which Barbados is signatory.

The committee, which comprises representatives from a cross section of agencies that work with such persons, was launched last evening by the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development in the Conference Room of the Warrens Office Complex.

In addressing the committee, Minister with responsibility for Social Care, Steve Blackett, urged its members to ???keep their ears to the ground??? so that any challenges facing PWD could be adequately addressed.

He noted that Barbados had ratified the UNCRPD on February 27, 2013 and reiterated that its main points were to ensure that PWD have effective enjoyment of the universal right to life, on an equal basis with others; be recognized as persons before the law, and enjoy legal capacity; and be able to own and inherit property, and have access to credit.

???PWD must have effective access to justice, on an equal basis with others. They shall enjoy liberty and security of person; [and] the Convention allows for special measures to achieve equality for PWD,??? he stated.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ernesta Drakes, reaffirmed its commitment to the protection of the rights of PWD.

She pointed out that the ratification of the UNCRPD meant, among other advantages, that Barbados had now moved from observer status and was accorded full membership status, having the right to speak and vote at the annual UN Conference on Disabilities; Barbados would now be able to access funding from the UN and other sources to improve its disability plant and provide better resources for PWD; and that Barbados will take the appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against PWD.

Members of the Committee are Chairman, Senator Kerryann Ifill; Deputy Chairman, Roslyn Hurley and Secretary Janelle Clarke.

Floor members are Director of the National Disabilities Unit, Lloyd Springer; representatives of the Barbados Council for the Disabled Donna King-Brathwaite and Roseanne Tudor; representative of the Welfare Department Kregg Burgess, representative of the Ministry of Health Dr. Jennifer Campbell; representative of the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home, Joseph Murrell; representative for the University of the West Indies Dale Lynch; and Barbados Labour Party representative, David Harper.

The first goal of the Committee is to submit a comprehensive report on measures taken by Barbados to give effect to its obligations under the Convention and progress made in that regard by early next year.

The purpose of the UNCRPD is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.


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