Harjinder Jutle, President of Montserrat Association for Persons with Disabilities (MAPD), will be attending the Regional Assembly of Disabled People’s International (DPI) in St Kitts this weekend August 24 and 25. The DPI North America and Caribbean Region meets every two years to review its activities and future plans, and to elect its regional and global representatives. DPI, founded in Singapore in 1981, is the world’s only global cross-disability organisation, and is run exclusively by disabled people. DPI has special consultative status with the United Nations under Article 71 of the UN Charter.
Ms Jutle, who is legally blind and the white cane user, is attending the assembly for the second time, said, “We’ve made some great progress in Montserrat over the last two years. We are represented on the steering group for the port project, the government has promised to implement a concessionary ferry fares policy for carers of disabled people, and it has provided grant aid to enable us to set up an equipment store. The new school buildings will be wheelchair accessible. But there is much more to do”.
In 2017 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities called for the UN Convention on disability rights to be adopted by Montserrat and the other British Overseas Territories. Since then MAPD has been lobbying for this to happen. The organisation’s submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee was even referred to at the last meeting of the UNs Decolonisation Committee. MAPD has met with the Head of Overseas Territories at DFID, and the Deputy Director of Overseas Territories at the FCO, to make the case for adopting the UN recommendation.
“We are a small organisation,” said Harjinder. “We are all volunteers and there is only so much we can do. But it is important that the Montserrat and UK Governments work together to ensure that the needs and rights of disabled people are catered for in all plans for the future development of the island. Signing up to the Convention should ensure that happens. We had offered to host the DPI regional assembly meeting here in Montserrat but the island does not meet the criteria for such an event.”
DPI’s purpose is to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, encourage their economic and social integration, and to support the development of local organisations to support their needs.