The Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights held a two-day regional convening on access to justice for persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities from 2 to 3 May 2023 at Capital Hotel Menlyn Maine in Pretoria, South Africa. Titled Court accommodations for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in southern Africa, the convening was a follow-up to the first convening held in May 2022.
The convening brought together various stakeholders including law and policy makers, organisations of persons with disabilities, academics and members of the judiciary from various Southern African countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Mozambique and South Africa. At the end of the convening, each of the delegates committed to applying and disseminating the knowledge and skills gained during the convening to ensure that persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in their respective countries can access justice on an equal basis with others.
The convening sought to promote the right to access justice enshrined in article 13 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and article 13 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa by focusing on the practical aspects of providing accommodations in court. Numerous topics were addressed including the role of effective communication, the role of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, as well as the role of intermediaries in promoting effective participation by persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. Using Lesotho’s experience as an example, delegates also interrogated various strategies for ensuring equal access to justice including strategic litigation and legislative reform.
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