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Law Hub Gambia welcomes the tabling of the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2020 on 8 June 2020 at the second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2020 Legislative Year.

The Bill is intended to make provisions for the health care, social support, accessibility, rehabilitation, education and vocational training, communication, employment and work protection and promotion of basic rights for persons with disabilities and for connected matters.

The Bill if passed will be in accordance with the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, which specifically provides for the protection and rights of persons with disabilities. These provisions include:

  •  Section 31, which states that:

(1) The right of the disabled and handicapped to respect and human dignity shall be recognised by the State and society.

(2) Disabled persons shall be entitled to protection against exploitation and to protection against discrimination, in particular as regards access to health services, education and employment.

(3) In any judicial proceedings in which a disabled person is a party, the procedure shall take his or her condition into account.

  • Section 33 recognises the equality of all persons before the law and further includes disability as a ground of discrimination.

  • Section 216(2) under social objectives provides for the establishment of policies that protect the rights and freedoms of the disabled, the aged, children and other vulnerable members of society to ensure just and equitable social opportunities

The Gambia also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol on 7 July 2015. The CRPD is an international human rights treaty that promotes and protects the human rights of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

The Gambia is yet to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa (Disability Protocol) was adopted on 30 January 2018. According to Ebenezer Durojaye and Satang Nabaneh:

“The African Disability Rights Protocol is a binding legal document protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities taking into account their lived realities in the continent while maintaining the core values and principles as set out in the CRPD.

— E Durojaye & S Nabaneh ‘Human rights and access to healthcare for persons with albinism in Africa’ (2019) 7 African Disability Rights Yearbook 35-58

The Protocol has not come into force as it has yet to be ratified by at least 15 member states.