NATION

A-G: Use Your Rights, Fight Against Discrimination

Attorney-General and Minister for Econ­omy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has encour­aged persons living with disabilities to be strong and fight the discriminations they face in society. He made these comments at the
25 Mar 2018 11:00
A-G: Use Your Rights, Fight Against Discrimination
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the FNCDP 2018-2019 National Budget consultation in Suva on March 23,2018. Photo: Deptfo

Attorney-General and Minister for Econ­omy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has encour­aged persons living with disabilities to be strong and fight the discriminations they face in society.

He made these comments at the 2018-2019 Budg­et Consultation at the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP) in Suva on Friday.

A disabled person speaking to Mr Sayed-Khai­yum yesterday spoke out to give his personal ex­perience of being discriminated against during his work at the Ministry for Education.

“We are being discriminated in Government departments and in private sectors. We need an environment that can absorb people with disability. How can we work in an environment where most are being discriminated?” he asked Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

“At the age of 7. I had an accident, was in coma, recovered, my left hand was always shaking.

“When the education staff pass something like a file to other staff, they shake their hands as to imitate me, I reported to my supervisor and then to FNCDP to report the matter and was directed to see the then Minister Mahendra Reddy, but from there nothing has been done,” he said.

He said this had caused hurt and disappointed him, wondering if there was any place for them to be absorbed in.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum responded that Fiji was still an environment where people with disabili­ties were being discriminated against.

“But I don’t think you should think that eve­rything is bad,” he said. “We now have a law in place, the environment out there it’s a struggle, it’s a fight, that’s why we brought about the law.”

He said the reality was that some people in Fiji continued to behave as such, and it was a system that needed to be changed.

“From the Government’s perspective, we made the laws, we are serious.”

Meanwhile, Amaysa Naidu, who had Bipolar Disorder: requested medical attendants, Police officers and other Government representatives be taught how not to discriminate against disa­bled people. Ms Naidu said she was recently called mentally retarded by a Police officer and this was not right.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said a law — the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act —was in place to support them and they could use it against the Government, private sector and any person who discriminated against them.

“The law now on the Bill of Rights can be ap­plied vertically and horizontally,” he said.

“You can apply it both against Government and against the private sector too.”

He called on the persons with disabilities to make use of the Human Rights and Anti-Dis­crimination Commission and raise their issues.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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