Under the theme, “Promoting Disability rights through the bench” NUDIPU in partnership with Judicial Training Institute and PILAC conducted a capacity building training for judicial officers on how to handle matters involving persons with disabilities at Hotel Africana. Much as we have laws, policies such as the constitution, persons with disabilities act which obliges the government and all other persons to respect, uphold and promote the fundamental human rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities, challenges such as inaccessibility especially in old courts, lack of sign language interpreters for the Deaf are still existent.
Deaf persons are told to pay for sign language services which makes it difficult for them to access justice in the courts of law.
Furthermore, the act is still not clear on how persons with mental or psychosocial disabilities can be handled especially when they have relapses.
It is upon such barriers that NUDIPU in partnership with Judicial Training Institute and PILAC capacitated judicial officers by training them on how best they can support the court/judicial processes to ensure that persons with disabilities access justice in the courts of law, through provision of reasonable accommodation, accessible infrastructure and learn how to handle them. The persons with disabilities Act 2020 guarantees protection of the rights of Persons with disabilities including the rights to education, freedom from discrimination, right to health, work and employment, accessibility and reasonable accommodation and access to justice.
While making remarks, Ms. Esther Kyozira the Chief Executive Officer – NUDIPU recognized efforts by the judiciary to serve persons with disabilities as;
1. One of our own who is a person with visual impairment was taken on as a judicial officer.
2. We have a representative on the judicial council.
3. Courts are becoming accessible to persons with physical disabilities.
Much as we have been able to register some achievements in access to justice for Persons with disabilities, there are still many challenges faced by persons with disabilities when it comes to accessing justice in the courts of law.
Given the pressure we go through, we may not have been keen. As administrators of justice, we need to respect all persons including those with disabilities by upholding their dignity while administering Justice”. Lady Justice Dr. Winifred Nabisinde the Resident Judge Jinja district.
She further called on the judicial officers to learn how to identify persons with disabilities, understand their needs and be empathic when dealing with them.