Annual Debate: Rights of the Persons with Disabilities
Permanent Mission of Fiji to Geneva
Statement of Fiji at the annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities with a focus on article 5 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Human Rights Council
Fiji thanks the members of the panel for their contributions to this important subject.
In Fiji, the protection of persons with disabilities is guaranteed by a set of legislation and policies at national level. The Constitution provides for the rights of persons with disabilities and encapsulates any care given to persons with disabilities. The Fiji National Disability Policy aims to contribute to building a society in Fiji that demonstrates respect for all people by dismantling barriers and building institutions and structures that are inclusive and allow people with disabilities to participate fully and equally.
In 2010, Fiji signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol. We are pleased to announce that on 25 April 2016, the Fijian Government proposed to Parliament the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This proposal was considered by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, which has recommended in its Report, that the Convention be ratified without reservations.
Also in April of last year, the Government referred to the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016 for consideration. The Bill goes hand in hand with the Convention as it is intended to import the Convention into domestic law and empowers, in additional to the Constitutional Redress process, persons with disabilities to enforce their rights either as individuals or through the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission.
More importantly, the Bill also provides a conduit for persons with disabilities to be protected, promoted and recognised in the social, economic, political, cultural, civil and in all other relevant facets of our society. The Bill establishes a National Council for Persons with Disabilities, which
represents the interests of persons with disabilities and ensures community awareness and respect for them.
Though this panel discussion, Fiji is better informed of the good practices in promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities in order to achieve substantive equality and to ensure non-discrimination. The discussion illustrates the need for an integrated national policy on disability, and shows us that legislative and Constitutional reform on their own are not sufficient. They are merely the first step towards equality.