International Disability Week - Remarks by Ms Moana Luamanuvae on behalf of the UN RC

Dec 2, 2015

As our country celebrates International Disability Week, the recently released State of Human Rights Report prepared by the National Human Rights Institution, and the first ever for Samoa, places much emphasis on protection of basic human rights of vulnerable populations.

“People with disabilities” is a major group addressed under vulnerable populations, and the report highlights the need for better safeguards for equality, inclusion, respect, and increased protections regarding their basic human rights. 

Samoa is commended for signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), on 25 September 2014 and for taking steps to become a full State Party to the Convention. The Convention seeks to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities and ensure they have equal opportunity and enjoyment of human rights and freedoms in all spheres of life.

Samoa is thus required to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of the rights contained in each treaty. The provisions of an international treaty must therefore be reflected in domestic legislation for Samoa to be compliant with international law.

And the fa’asamoa or the Samoan way of life, upholds core values of respect, dignity, love, protection, and service, which mutually reinforce human rights.

Education and employment are two crucial issues commonly identified among Government Ministries and NGOs as effective measures to ensure access and participation of People With Disabilities on an equal basis with others.

The Strategy for the Development of Samoa 2012-2016 document noted that there has been a 54% increase in children with disabilities accessing schools since 2009, and this is to be applauded. Currently, there is limited capacity to provide fully inclusive education for students with specific needs despite the requirement of law to do so. More so, there is a need to develop the capacity of teachers to be well-equipped and properly trained to provide appropriate education to students with disabilities.

With regards to employment, the latest Adult Disability Identification Census, found only 2.4% of people with disabilities engage in paid work outside the home and 37.8% do not work. MCIL have indicated that people with disabilities are equally welcome to access their job and apprenticeship programmes, but efforts need to step up to cater to the specific needs of PWDs. The Convention calls for government to ensure people with disabilities have effective access to general technical and vocational programmes, services and training.

On this day marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Secretary General of the United Nations highlighted the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global blueprint for action summons us to “leave no one behind”. 

As Ban Ki moon said: “Building a sustainable, inclusive world for all requires the full engagement of people of all abilities.  The 2030 Agenda includes many issues of concern to persons with disabilities and we must work together to transform these commitments into action.”

“Earlier this year, the United Nations Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction recognised the key role that people with disabilities can play in promoting a more universally accessible approach in disaster preparedness and response.  Next year, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) will discuss a new urban development agenda to make our cities inclusive, accessible and sustainable. The voices of persons with disabilities will be critical to this process.

As we look ahead, we need to strengthen development policies and practices to ensure that accessibility is part of inclusive and sustainable development.  This requires improving our knowledge of the challenges facing all persons with disabilities – including through more robust, disaggregated data -- and ensuring that they are empowered to create and use opportunities. 

Together with persons with disabilities, we can move our world forward by leaving no one behind.”

Thank you.


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