On 17 and 18 September 2019, the Disability Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Namibian Office of the Ombudsman, hosted a training in Namibia on the right to participation in political and public life for persons with disabilities. The training, which was held at the Windhoek Country Club Resort, was aimed at civil society organisations (CSOs) working to advance the rights of persons with disabilities.
The training focused on increasing knowledge and understanding of the rights of persons with disabilities to public and political participation. This right is set out in article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The training was conducted by Ms Innocentia Mgijima-Konopi, Ms Ruusa Ntinda and Ms Hlengiwe Dube, and explored the following issues:
- global, regional and national legal frameworks protecting the rights of persons with disabilities
- the right to participation in political and public life as set out in article 29 of the CRPD and article 21 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- the right of persons with disabilities to vote and to stand for elections, discussing national legal framework
- ways in which the rights of people with disabilities to participate in political life and decision-making generally has been promoted or denied in Namibia
- possible measures that States can adopt to enhance political participation of persons with disabilities
- advocacy strategies that CSOs can use to advance the rights of people with disabilities to participate in political life
CSOs that were in attendance included the Namibian Association of People with Physical Disability (NAPPD), the Namibian Mental Health Association (NAMHA), the Down Syndrome Association of Namibia (DSAN), the Namibian Special Needs Adults Centre (NSNAC/House NOAH), the Namibian Association of Wheelchair Users (NAWCU), Women’s Action for Development, Epilepsy Namibia, Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired and the Autism Association of Namibia.
The Ombudsman of Namibia, Advocate John Walters in his welcome speech emphasised the importance of such a training ahead on the national elections and committed to take recommendations made during the training to the relevant bodies. The training is the first in a series of trainings that will be held, targeted at countries having elections.
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