Cameroon has ratified two major pieces of international disability legislation, in what is being hailed as a double win for disability rights campaigners.
On the 28 December 2021, the president of the Republic of Cameroon has signed and ratified both the African Disability Protocol (ADP) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This comes after years of campaigning by disability rights groups in the country.
The UNCRPD is an international human rights treaty intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. The ADP is a treaty which builds on the UNCRPD by addressing unique issues and forms of discrimination that affect people with disabilities living in African countries. For example, albinism, superstition, and traditional beliefs. It was adopted by the African Union in 2018 and enables countries to formulate disability laws and citizens to hold them to account.
Dr Joseph Oye, country director of Sightsavers Cameroon, said, “We are delighted that the government of Cameroon have listened to our Equal World campaign and formally ratified the UNCRPD and the African Disability Protocol. When fully in force the Protocol will be key to ensuring the rights of people with disabilities in Cameroon, as well as millions more across Africa.”
He added, “These milestones have happened in the lead up to this year’s Global Disability Summit in February, for which we call on all governments to make concrete commitments to and action on disability inclusion.”
Sightsavers has been working for years with the Platform Inclusive Society for Persons with Disabilities in Cameroon to call on the government to sign up to the ADP.
The Protocol has already been adopted by Mali, but it will only come into force once it has been ratified by 15 member states of the African Union.
Mr Boma Cliford, Programme Manager and Advocacy lead of Sightsavers Cameroon said, “People with disabilities in Africa are significantly less likely than their peers to be in school, have jobs or participate in political life. Legislation like the ADP gives people the power to change this. With the opportunity of the Global Disability Summit coming up this February, our Equal World campaign calls on all African Union Member States to follow the example of Cameroon to sign and ratify the ADP so no one is left behind.”
Through its Equal World campaign, Sightsavers is working with organisations of people with disabilities and other partners to call on African governments to ratify the ADP. Disability campaigners in these countries are asking their governments to join Mali and Cameroon, and make commitments ahead of the Global Disability Summit this February.
The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be found here:
Through its Equal World campaign, Sightsavers is working with organisations of people with disabilities and other partners to call on African governments to ratify the African Disability Protocol. The ADP must be ratified by 15 countries to come into force, and the campaign aims to achieve this within the next two years.
Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 countries to prevent avoidable blindness and fight for the rights of people with disabilities. Our vision is of a world where no one is blind from avoidable causes, and where people with disabilities can participate equally in society. Sightsavers has been operating in Cameroon since 1996.