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Trinidad and Tobago

Prevent disabled marginalisation

Minister says laws coming soon

Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn. FILE PHOTO
Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn. FILE PHOTO

SOCIAL Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn says new legislation and legislative amendments are coming to prevent marginalisation of the disabled.

She was responding to questions in the House last week after reading a statement on the National Policy on Persons with Disabilities.

Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Christine Newallo-Hosein on how the ministry planned to ensure marginalisation of people with disabilities is eliminated. Crichlow-Cockburn replied: “The intention is to amend legislation that may contain discriminatory provisions. We are also going to provide and implement new legislation that will ensure equality and recognition before the law.”

She said there is also an awareness campaign which is intended to build awareness among citizens within TT to have a better appreciation for people with disabilities and also learn how to best interact with them. “We will also be looking at the whole issue of education where we will be looking at the whole system of equality and inclusion. And this is going to be from the Early Childhood to the tertiary level. So there are a number of objectives and plans within the policy that are going to treat with the issue raised by the member for Cumuto/Manzanilla.” She also reported that after two years Government has been able to get the necessary statutory approvals and the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities was formerly recommissioned in December 2018.”

Crichlow-Cockburn said the policy is the result of a comprehensive consultative and participatory process and is reflective of TT’s commitment to the continuous enhancement of the well-being of people with disabilities.

She said it is also in keeping with TT’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was signed by TT in September 2007 and ratified in June 2015.

“The policy provides a comprehensive framework for achieving social inclusion and equality of opportunity of all persons with disabilities in TT. It is of fundamental importance that particular attention is paid to this segment of our population, as failure to do so would mean exclusion of a significant portion of our national human resource asset.”

She noted the 2011 TT Population and Housing Census indicated that there were approximately 52,244 people with disabilities in TT representing a 14.8 per cent increase over the previous census.

She listed the objectives of the policy including: provide a framework that will guide the development of public policy to incorporate disability-related issues; eliminating marginalisation of and discrimination against all people with disabilities ensuring effective access to justice; provide national direction for greater inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in social, educational, cultural, economic and recreational aspects of society; and to reinforce institutions and establish additional facilities to enhance provision of services to people with disabilities.

“We are now embarking on the critical implementation phase, which would be inter-ministerial and inter-sectoral. I, therefore, look forward to a similar kind of collaboration from our stakeholders, which I am confident will be forthcoming, given the genuine interest we all have in advocating for persons with disabilities.”

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