The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit (HRU) has visited Antigua and Barbuda to assess the needs of persons with disabilities and mental health conditions.
To mark World Mental Health Day, the Commonwealth Secretariat has urged all member countries to ensure that persons with disabilities and persons with mental health conditions are both agents and beneficiaries of development.
The news follows Antigua and Barbuda’s ratification of its Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities back in 2016.
“Disability is a cross-cutting issue that requires long-term, comprehensive approaches,” said Shavana Haythornthwaite, Head of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit.
“Antigua and Barbuda has a longstanding commitment to protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
“The Human Rights Unit is pleased to be here, supporting the government in identifying further sustainable steps it can take to ensure that Antigua and Barbuda is an accessible and inclusive society for everyone.
“This needs assessment will provide an important evidence base upon which we will develop, in collaboration with the government, a multi-year programme to strengthen frameworks to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.”
Approximately 15 per cent of people globally have a disability and an estimated 1 billion are living with mental health conditions. In the Caribbean, there are over a million persons living with some form of disability and the vulnerability of the region to climate disasters creates a disproportionate risk to this group.
According to a UN survey, across the globe, only 20 per cent of persons with disabilities could evacuate immediately and without difficulty in the event of a sudden disaster.
The Human Rights Unit’s planned project in Antigua and Barbuda will support the inclusion of disabilities as a central concern in all emergency communications and that persons with disabilities are consulted and fully involved in the development and implementation of emergency response, disaster management and disaster risk reduction policies.
“The rights of persons with disabilities continue to be a priority for the Commonwealth Secretariat and this mission will help the Human Rights Unit to support the government of Antigua and Barbuda to build on its current achievements and ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms,” concluded Haythornthwaite.
The nation gained independence in 1981, but still recognises the UK monarch as its head of state.