Montserrat Association for Persons with Disabilities (MAPD) has been given a huge boost with the news that the UN General Assembly has now backed its call for comprehensive disability legislation to be introduced into Montserrat. The proposals originate from last year’s UN Mission where the team were shocked to discover that there is no specific disability related legislation on island. The Mission met with MAPD for a wide-ranging discussion on transport, accessible tourism, employment law, and many other issues. The news has come just a few days before MAPD celebrates this year’s UN International Day for Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December.
Earlier this month the General Assembly resolved that there must be “equitable social development and inclusion” in Montserrat, and that “greater efforts be made to respond to the challenges and the needs of persons with disabilities.” In addition, the Assembly requested that the UK Government reports to the Secretary-General on the steps being taken. The recommendations also include the need for more UK assistance to Montserrat on disability issues.
In response to the news, Harjinder Jutle, the MAPD President said: “We are delighted by this, and are now hoping that the FCDO and the Montserrat Government will find the pressure to do something impossible to resist. Recent events on island have shown that even the Labour Code isn’t providing the protection that its authors would have expected. Cayman Islands has 20 year disability strategy that is actively being delivered, so it is difficult to see why the issue is such a problem for us here.”
MAPD’s increasing profile means that this year’s activities in celebration of the UN Day for Persons with Disabilities will be international. Ms Jutle, who is also a member of the Global Council of Disabled People’s International, went on the say: “There isn’t a lot we can do locally to celebrate the day at the moment, but with so many events now online we are able to participate in international activities that we wouldn’t normally be able to attend. This week there is the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on Disability Rights, and Disabled People’s International has organised side meetings with CBM (the Christian Blind Mission) the World Blind Union, and the Leprosy Mission. We have speakers and guest from all over the world.”
MAPD is also able to attend the Civil Society Forum, which takes place every year on the day before the main Conference, usually in New York. MAPD members will be attending online sessions on human rights advocacy, digital exclusion, and disability-inclusive development. MAPD’s own AGM, which usually takes place around this time, has been deferred to next year.