Intellectual disabilities as an unjustified barrier to accessing justice
In conversation with Dr Elizabeth Kamundia
Many of us take for granted the ability to report crimes, take part in criminal and civil legal proceedings and make ourselves understood. However, this is not necessarily the case for those with disabilities. There may be additional barriers and hurdles to overcome which prevent access to justice and remedies. In this episode, Dr Elizabeth Kamundia (Kenya National Commission on Human Rights) presents the challenges persons with disabilities may face, and ways to rectify this within the formal justice system.
Focusing on intellectual disabilities, Dr Kamundia guides the listener through examples from the first point of contact with police, through to the final stage of court proceedings. The heavy reliance on verbal accounts is problematic for those whose disability hinders the ability to express themselves verbally and who may not present themselves in a manner the police expect. The lack of understanding surrounding disabilities, particularly around intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, coupled with the negative perceptions effects how they are treated when reporting cases.
The conversation then turns to the law, what support services are offered and the issue of legal capacity. In terms of the law, we consider how criminal defences can be strengthened to ensure those accused persons with disabilities are given appropriate sentences and defences. The effect of this enables both the rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities to be upheld.
This conversation was recorded on 12 March 2019.
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