The historic move by the government of St. Kitts and Nevis to sign and accede to the United Nations’ (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been praised by Joseph Bergan, President of the St. Kitts-Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities (SKNAPD).
The Convention was signed by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris Sept. 27 following his presentation to the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Friday’s signing delivered on my Team Unity Administration’s promise to Lance Corporal Joseph Bergan … and members of the differently abled community that we would get it done for them,” Prime Minister Harris said while addressing local media Thursday at his monthly press conference, adding he was “happy today to report that we have done it and we have delivered on this promise made.”
President Bergan, who was a special guest at the press conference, stated before the prime minister’s news briefing that St. Kitts and Nevis’ signing and accession to the Convention “means a lot” and will positively impact the lives of the differently-abled, including individuals with intellectual disabilities, vision loss, hearing loss, and mobility and other challenges.
He added that the provisions of the CRPD are designed to make the lives of the differently abled more meaningful and the association is looking forward to increased engagement with public and private sector stakeholders and civil society representatives to achieve this.
According to the UN, the CRPD “takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.”
President Bergan expressed optimism that as a result of the recent signing more doors will be opened in order for the differently-abled community to achieve increased economic empowerment and social integration, and added when more differently-abled persons are included in the workplace it will help to eliminate the stigma that a disability automatically equates to an inability.
Other members of the differently-abled community who attended today’s press conference included Anthony Mills, SKNAPD past president; Rockliffe Bowen, President of the St. Kitts Society for the Blind; Sylvine Henry, SKNAPD Public Relations Officer; and Desiree Matthew, an Assistant Teacher at the SKNAPD.
“We in the Team Unity administration take the approach that the differently-abled are first and foremost people with a need for validation just like everyone else,” the prime minister said.