Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Uganda Parliament tables amendment that recognizes albinos in disability laws

From New Vision in Uganda:

Albinism has been included in the new disability coding by the gender, labour and social development ministry, state minister Emmanuel Otaala said. The minister tabled the National Council for Disability Amendment Bill, 2010, which contained the new list, before Parliament Sept. 27.

Albinos have been complaining of neglect by the Government, having been excluded from the 2006 Persons with Disability Act.

They argue that the exclusion deters them from benefiting from development programmes as they suffer stigma and discrimination.

Albinism is a condition where a person is born without enough skin pigment called melanin. Melanin is a chemical that colours the skin, eyes, and hair. Without it, people look pale and their hair may appear yellow.

In the Bill, the disabled are categorised as sensory disabilities, physical disabilities, including those whose limbs have been amputated. Deformities, including lower limbs, spinal cord injuries, rheumatism, club feet and albinism are also included.

The Bill also seeks to streamline the election of persons with disabilities to Parliament and local government councils. Representatives will now be chosen basing on their political party affiliations in accordance with the multi-party system through the formation of electoral colleges.

“In forming electoral colleges, gender should be taken into consideration,” Otaala said. The Electoral Commission will be required to facilitate the formation of electoral colleges at different levels of government.

In addition, the EC shall appoint returning officers and presiding officers for the purpose of conducting elections of representatives of persons with disabilities.

“Any person with disabilities who meets national standards for elections has a right to contest for any elective office to represent persons with disabilities,” reads the Bill.

At every level of representation, a committee of five members shall have a representative of the blind, deaf, physically disabled, women with disabilities and youth with disabilities.

The district executive committee members shall form four regional electoral colleges to elect four representatives to Parliament and a woman representative, according to the Bill.