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Editorial | Make disabilities law really work

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Editorial | Make disabilities law really work

It is a shame that it will be more than seven years since Parliament passed the Disabilities Act and when it comes into force next February. It will take that long because, according to the labour and social security minister, Karl Samuda, that was the time it required to establish the structures, and draft the regulations, for the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD). Those regulations were recently approved by Parliament.

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Perhaps people who suffer from disabilities, and those who believe that there should be equity in the society, should give thanks for small mercies. Something is happening now, so it is better to look to the future rather than be peeved about the failures of the past.

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The delay, though, underlines two important facts about Jamaica, one of which is a regular matter of concern for observers of the island’s legislative process. That is, just how long it takes to draft legislation that the Government does not have as an absolute priority. The authorities generally blame this on the paucity of legal draughtsmen, which, of course, is not a credible answer for a problem that has persisted for decades. It does not explain why the Government has not recruited and trained more people for a job when a clear need exists. Perhaps the justice minister, Delroy Chuck, will at some point expound with clarity on that question

It is a shame that it will be more than seven years since Parliament passed the Disabilities Act and when it comes into force next February. It will take that long because, according to the labour and social security minister, Karl Samuda, that was the time it required to establish the structures, and draft the regulations, for the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD). Those regulations were recently approved by Parliament.

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Perhaps people who suffer from disabilities, and those who believe that there should be equity in the society, should give thanks for small mercies. Something is happening now, so it is better to look to the future rather than be peeved about the failures of the past.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

The delay, though, underlines two important facts about Jamaica, one of which is a regular matter of concern for observers of the island’s legislative process. That is, just how long it takes to draft legislation that the Government does not have as an absolute priority. The authorities generally blame this on the paucity of legal draughtsmen, which, of course, is not a credible answer for a problem that has persisted for decades. It does not explain why the Government has not recruited and trained more people for a job when a clear need exists. Perhaps the justice minister, Delroy Chuck, will at some point expound with clarity on that question.

But more pertinent to the current issue is what the long hiatus between the passage of the Disabilities Act and last month’s approval of the JCPD’s regulations says about the priority Jamaica’s Governments, across political administrations, have really given to the welfare of disabled people, despite the generous lip service they always pays to the topic. Indeed, Jamaica was an early signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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Part of the problem, we suspect, is that while political parties, and the governments they form, may be genuinely intent on doing good for people with disabilities, this group has not established itself as a potent political bloc, making noise and demanding that their issues be treated with urgency. They should.

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