There has been progressive awareness and advocacy to date by People with Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI) and Community Based Rehabilitation Unit (CBR) of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services along with stakeholders on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Their inclusion in the society is fundamental as all citizens are to be treated equally as virtually to be seen as a human being which all citizen’s civil and political rights are enshrine in the Solomon Islands National Constitution Chapter II.
It is encouraging to learn that a recent announcement by electoral commission through the Telekom text message encouraging family members to assist people with disabilities to the registration centre’s for registration. This announcement is a realization on the rights of people with disabilities as stipulated in the Convention on the rights of persons with disability (CRPD):
Article 29 – Participation in political and public life
States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake to:
(a) Ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:
(i) Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;
(ii) Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;
(iii) Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;
(b) Promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:
(i) Participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;
(ii) Forming and joining organizations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.
The full participation of people with disabilities in this upcoming election is recognition on their rights as it would be very interesting to know how many people with disabilities have registered and vote in this coming election.
The Electoral Commission is urged to further facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities in the process as stipulate in Article 29 CRPD. Let’s all participate together by assisting people with disabilities for the realization of their right to participate in political and public life.
As an advocator for youths and people with disabilities, I would like to acknowledge the Electoral Commission for their great support in this venture for an inclusive society for all.
By Elwin Taloimatakwa
Solomon Islands Youth for Changeteam