On Friday 27 August 2021, the Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted a one-day training workshop on the right of persons with disabilities to participate in public and political life in Malawi. This right is entrenched in article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and in article 21 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa (African Disability Protocol).
The training covered a range of topics including global, regional and national legal frameworks on the right to public and political participation; barriers to effective participation; measures to enable participation and the relationship between access to information and public and political participation. The trainers included Ms Dianah Msipa, Acting Manager of the Disability Rights Unit, Dr Enoch Chilemba, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Malawi, Commissioner Bonface Massah, a Commissioner in the Malawi Human Rights Commission, Harry Chikasamba, a consultant for the Disability Rights Unit and Hlengiwe Dube, Manager of the Democracy, Transparency and Digital Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights.
Participants from various sectors including organisations of persons with disabilities, parliamentary committees, academia, the Malawi State House, and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) attended the training workshop. Justice of Appeal Charles Mkandawire from the Supreme Court of Malawi delivered the opening address citing the importance of such training workshops in a democratic society.
One of the participants highlighted the importance of the workshop for persons with disabilities as follows:
“Trainings such as these are important because they educate government officials and encourage government to increase the budget to ensure that persons with disabilities fully participate in public and political life.”
The Centre for Human Rights is also implementing a similar project on the right to public and political participation for persons with disabilities in Namibia.
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