By: Staff Writer
Luther Sangar Mendin
November 26, 2018
As AIFO-Liberia inaugurates its office ramp project, the European Disability Forum has called on the government of Liberia led by President George Weah to ensure that all public and private buildings are made accessible to persons with disabilities especially those in wheel chairs.
Giampiero Griffo, a board member of the forum said people living with disabilities like any other individual can meaningfully contribute to societal development once they are provided the opportunity and space to showcase their talents. He made the assertion during the dedication of a ramp constructed at the offices of the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau- Liberia Office in Sinkor, Monrovia. The ramp was constructed with funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation as part of the Disability and Startup project which is currently being implemented in Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and the city of Monrovia. Giampiero, who recently visited Liberia as part of an Institutional Training for heads of Disabled People Organisations under the Disability and Startup project said his visit was intended to provide capacity building training to disabled people organisations in other to empower their members.
For her part, the Country Director of AIFO-Liberia, Silvia Poggioli described the dedication of the ramp at her institution as a first step taken to achieve the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to her, in the absence of a ramp, persons with disabilities wouldn’t have the opportunity to access her office especially those in wheel chairs and even those using crutches. She also supported the call for government to ensure smooth accessibility of public and private buildings including banks, hospitals, offices, among others.
Meanwhile speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Tonieh Wiles, Commissioner of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights and Naomi Harris, President of the National Union of Organisations of the Disabled, also a local partner to the Disability and Startup project praised AIFO and the Italian Government for the initiative and called on both government and private institutions to follow suit.
“I Just want to thank AIFO and the Italian government for taking the initiative to start the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which Liberia ratified. These are some of the things that we should be doing, living by examples. Every government building should have ramp and should be accessible for persons with disabilities and for persons with disabilities to enjoy their rights”.
– Tonieh Wiles, Commissioner, Independent National Commission on Human Rights
Accessibility remains a major barrier for persons with disabilities in Liberia ranging from utilisation of public transportation, access to universities, reading equipment for visually impaired persons among many others.
Accessibility is one of the key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and a “vital pre-condition for effective and equal enjoyment of different civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights by persons with disabilities”. Article 9 of the UNCRPD sets out an obligation for state parties to ensure that persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, information and communications, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public.
Moreover, Article 5 of the UNCRPD which is focused on Equality and non-discrimination states that all signatories to the convention shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.
The government will need to enforce the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that will ensure that all public and private structures including learning and informational materials are made accessible for persons with disabilities in Liberia as they also constitute a significant percentage of the population of Liberia and are also right holders.
Giampiero in an interview with Prime Communications Network as Silvia Poggioli Looks on..