By John Agaba
A Ugandan has been elected to represent persons with disabilities (PWDs) to the United Nations.
Martin Babu Mwesigwa beat other contenders from nine African countries. He will now represent Uganda on the committee of experts on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Briefing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre, state minister for the elderly and disability affairs Sulaiman Madada said that Uganda will be able to sell her contribution such as affirmative action towards alleviating the rights of PWDs in the country on the international stage.
Madada said, “Out of the 20 countries that participated in elections, nine were from Africa and Uganda was the only African country that got its nominee elected.’’
Other countries elected were Jordan, Thailand, Chile, Hungary, Turk, Spain, and Guatemala.
He said that the elections which took place during the UN 5th state parties’ conference on September 12 at the UN headquarters in New York, will see Babu occupy one of the nine posts on a committee of 18 experts who sit thrice every year in Geneva to deliberate on the rights of PWDs.
The UNCRPD is the highest human rights treaty that seeks to promote and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of PWDS.
It focuses on PWDs right to adequate standard of living and that of their families, including the basic necessities of life without discrimination against them.
Uganda is one of the 119 member states that signed the UNCRPD and its optional protocol on March 30 2007 and ratified it on September 25 2008.
Member states are obliged to submit regular reports to the committee on how the rights of PWDs are being promoted and protected in that particular country.
Madada said that the challenges of PWDs in Uganda were still vivid but, “we are engaging PWDs more in vocational training and community based rehabilitation schemes. We are also providing vulnerable family support grants and special grants for PWDs amounting to sh3b since financial year 2010.’’
Babu, who for the past 13 years has worked with the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) promised to represent PWDs.
“I was declared a committee member with effect from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2016; I will be on the committee for four years but I will not forget PWDs.’’