Do persons with disabilities have the right to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government?

Explanation

This question refers to the legal capacity of all persons with disabilities to fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others.

In detail

Summary

50% of experts responded positively, and 34.7% stated that there are qualifications, meaning that not every person with disabilities or not all public functions at all levels of government are available. Some key challenges raised included:

  • Some Contradictions and exceptions made in electoral texts imply the marginalisation of PWDs. Some respondents noted there are no alliances with PWDs’ organisations to promote the political participation of PWDs. Overall there is a lack of legal frameworks supporting the promotion of PWDs’ ability to stand for elections
  • Practical barriers: inaccessible work buildings and other facilities, lack of power to be elected. These constraints also rely on funds available to provide all these facilities especially regarding communication and interpretation facilities
  • Social barriers: stigma from the audience voting preventing individuals from going further political participation. PWDs also restrict themselves in practise to be elected as they are aware there are not enough support services or legal capacity from the courts to support their right to be elected
  • Intellectual disabilities barriers: generally, the right to be elected depends on the type of disability
Comments

“For the first time in 2012, inmates of psychiatric hospitals to enable participate in national elections. Issue of persons with psychosocial or intellectual disability is still dicey one as the law defines an eligible voter as a citizen of Ghana of the age of 18 and above and who is of a sound mind.” (Debra YAW OFORI, PRESIDENT, member of DPI, GHANA FEDERATION OF THE DISABLED, Ghana)

“Although there are no legal boundaries, there is still the problem of practicality and power these people have or do not have. There is no support for these activities.” (Jelena Misic, Association of parpalegics, persons with polio and other physical disabilities of Doboj Region, MB Member/site coordinator, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

“Though the law does not out rightly prevent people with disabilities to stand for elections or hold public offices, it however specify that any individual who desire to hold public office, must be of “sound mind” and without any form of ill health that would interfere with the ability of such an individual to perform his/her duties while holding such public office(s)” (EKAETE JUDITH Umoh, JOINT NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (JONAPWD), NATIONAL PRESIDENT, member of DPI, Nigeria)

CRPD Article

Article 29: participation in political and public life

“States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake:

a) To ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:

  1. Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;
  2. Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;
  3. Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;

b) To promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:

  1. Participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;
  2. Forming and joining organizations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.”

(UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities)