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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Federation tells IEC to stop discriminating against persons with disability

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By Aisha Tamba

The Gambia Federation of the Disabled has urged the Independent Election Commission IEC to stop discriminating against persons with disabilities in accessing polling booths.

In a report shared with journalists after the Local Government Councillors election, the federation said its observers across the country have identified a number of polling booths that are inaccessible to persons with disability.

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The federation said despite those challenges, its observer groups professionally conducted themselves.

The report revealed that four persons with disabilities contested in the election with one emerging victorious, the first time a person with disability won elections in The Gambia.


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“In most of the observed polling stations, persons with disabilities, pregnant/breastfeeding mothers and elderly were either assisted or given priority to vote. However, it was also observed that accessibility for wheelchair users was a challenge. There is a wide and strong consensus that persons with disabilities in The Gambia believe they are treated as second-class citizens and suffer tremendous discrimination in many areas-including the voting process,” the report added.


The federation said the IEC should ensure physical accessibility to registration sites and polling stations for persons with disability is an issue that must be addressed.

It urged human rights bodies, international organisations, and CSOs to cooperate with them in addressing cross violations of rights against persons with disabilities in exercising their fundamental human rights.

It advised the IEC to designate registration sites, polling stations and nomination centres to persons with disabilities so that a benchmark can be achieved for future reference.

“The IEC should initiate a strong voter education and public outreach program to government agencies, NGOs, CSOs, local authorities, international organisations and disabled organisations to disseminate information regarding the registration period, polling sites and other election-related information aimed at the general public. This should include the development and distribution of promotional materials, posters, radio and TV spots, cassette tapes (for visually impaired voters) such materials should be produced in Braille, and also recognise the special needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community,” the report added.

The report also outlined that there are several conclusions derived from this intentional violation of the political rights of persons with disabilities in the Gambia.

It added that despite having international and national legal instruments safeguarding the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities to participate in electoral processes in The Gambia, they continued to face discrimination.

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