Special Reports

Makerere, KCCA Exonerated on Breaching Rights of Disabled

Makerere_University_516246590

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medical http://clinicapetterson.com.br/wp-includes/update.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Prosecution led by Ms Galisonga, Kasasa & Nassali Co. Advocates filed a case in 2011 seeking that court declares that the failure by the respondents to make their premises and buildings easily accessible by Persons with Disabilities (PWD) violates the fundamental rights of persons with disability to have access to a barrier free physical environment.


They further requested court to order the respondents jointly and severally, promptly do enforce the provisions of the law on PWDs relating to access to a barrier free physical environment.


Prosecution argued that the constitution of the Republic of Uganda guarantees affirmative action in favour of marginalised groups including persons with disabilities (PWDs) as well as the right to respect human dignity and enjoins the government and society to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities realise their mental and physical potential.


They added that despite the requirements of the above stated law, several owners of private and public buildings including the respondents have not complied with the provisions of the Act and KCCA has continued to approve buildings plans for new buildings within Kampala City that violate the disabled persons right to easy access to buildings of public use.


“Government bodies and departments such as the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, the High Court of Uganda at Kampala are operating in premises that cannot be easily accessed by PWDs or that do not have suitable facilities for PWDs thus depriving them access to such premises and buildings within Kampala City that violate the disabled persons right to easy access to buildings of public use.”


In his affidavit in reply deponed by one Joseph Buwembo, the Ag. Director of Physical Planning KCCA, the city authority noted that because of the mismanagement of affairs at KCCA physical planning laws among others were not strictly complied with which led to the construction of certain buildings in flagrant breach of physical planning standards and building regulations.


“However, with the establishment of KCCA, physical planning laws and regulations are being enforced and in case of any breach of the laws and regulations the authority has taken action against persons in breach. Without elaborating the deponent swore that this application is bad in law and he is advised accordingly.”


Makerere University Secretary, David Muhwezi Kahundha swore the affidavit in reply on its behalf.

He deponed that Makerere has limited revenue to utilize to accommodate a multitude of students seeking for Education facilities and restructuring the existing buildings to accommodate the disabled students in compliance with the said Act.


That nevertheless, despite the limited resources, Makerere has implemented and carried out measures to enforce the provisions of the constitution and the Act by setting up an adhoc committee of council to address issues relating to students and staff who are disabled and to design a policy on people with disabilities.


“Employing student guides and helpers to assist people with disabilities to have access to a barrier free physical environment at the University premises adding that the disabled students are allowed to choose their preferred halls of residence which may be nearest to their respective colleges where they study.”


In his judgment dated May 20, Justice Steven Musota noted that in consideration of all the deponed affidavits, the respondents have taken steps to make their premises and buildings accessible by people with disabilities.


“I am therefore satisfied that the respondents but especially Makerere are alive to the concerns of the students with disabilities and did not fail or refuse to respect, uphold or promote the rights of those students. There is evidence that Makerere is an equal opportunity institution for all persons. It has not violated the fundamental rights of the applicants to have access to a barrier free physical environment. Any limitations imposed upon the rights of persons with disabilities are justifiable in the existing circumstances.”


Musota added that whereas people with disabilities go through numerous challenges, while attending Makerere and or working in Kampala, this should be attributed to the old structures which never made sufficient provisions for such people.

“These structures came into existence before the promulgation of 1995 Constitution and enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Act, a time when affirmative action was not a policy of government.


Both the disabled and none disabled citizens must equally enjoy their rights. But relying on the accommodation principle, even where the fundamental human right in question is not absolute, the respondent has a duty to demonstrate that it has put in place reasonable measures to enable the complainants enjoy their constitutional rights.

Any limitations to the enjoyment of fundamental rights should be none substantial. It should be acceptable and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”


The judge concluded that Makerere will be encouraged to continue complying with the requirements of the Act and ensure continued modification of the old buildings and ensure that plans for new buildings take into account the right to easy access to them before they are approved.

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