On September 11, 2013, Inclusion International, in partnership with Inclusion Africa and the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) hosted the first ever roundtable on access to justice by people with disabilities and their families. More than 30 representatives of human rights and development NGOs as well as families of people with intellectual disabilities, self-advocates and human rights lawyers participated in a first consultation on access to justice for persons with disabilities who are victims of abuse and crime.
The discussions explored obstacles including: lack of knowledge and awareness by police, front-line workers (i.e. protection, healthcare, support staff etc.) through to the judiciary; failure to report/inability to report for persons with disabilities who are isolated and silenced; failure to provide adequate accommodations at all stages (reporting; investigation; judicial proceedings); and outdated laws/practices that prevent people with intellectual disabilities from providing testimony/being a witness.
Using a collection of cases and examples from participants, the roundtable was a crucial first step in identifying concrete options for more effectively preventing and responding to situations of violence involving people with disabilities. Participants valued the opportunity to work together and share their experience related to violence, violation and impunity against people with intellectual disabilities and their attempts to seek justice.
This first consultation and roundtable will be followed by other activities in the course of the work of the newly found Eastern African coalition on access to justice for persons with disabilities.