Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Stakeholders across St. Kitts are learning more about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as the government prepares to move forward with policies and programmes that will improve the lives of the differently-abled.
Two stakeholder consultations are taking place at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort this week as part of the Universal Periodic Review Trust Fund Disabilities Project. On Thursday (November 24) representatives from the organisations of persons with disabilities, civil society, the private sector and differently-abled individuals held discussions. Friday (November 25) will see engagement with public sector entities. Similar consultations were held in Nevis earlier this week.
The discussions are being led by Juana Sotomayor, Human Rights Adviser to the UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. Ms. Sotamayor said that the discussion is a follow-up to the Federation’s ratification of the Convention in 2019.
“Here we are following up on that ratification to ensure that the principles and the rights incorporated in the Convention are also brought into domestic policy and legislative plans of action and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is making quite a few advancements in that direction,” she stated.
President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities, Joseph Bergan, commended recent steps by the government to engage his association. He said the Federation must adopt a Human Rights approach to inclusion for differently-abled persons. President Bergan expressed pleasure with the mix of persons in the room and urged that they ensure disability is never seen as an obstacle to success.
The Honourable Isalean Phillip, Junior Minister responsible for Aging and Disabilities, said that the government is committed to doing more to incorporate persons with disabilities into mainstream society.
“We need to do more in terms of supporting them through different areas whether that be through education, social services intervention, housing, infrastructural development that would be able to accommodate them to function fully within our society,” Honourable Phillip expressed.
She added that in January 2023, the new Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Aging and Disabilities will be launched with a specific focus on these three areas.
“We want to finally formalize some sort of national disability policy. Part of the plans that we have is also to establish a registry for persons with disabilities, and of course, we will in a new ministry be able to coordinate more programming and activities hence why we will be establishing some sort of unit that is dedicated to disability services,” the Minister indicated.
Thursday’s consultation included an Overview of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with a specific focus on providing information on the obligations and responsibilities of the State, discussing priority areas and how they relate to the Convention and identifying key thematic areas, and related action items on the specific steps to be taken.