Vulnerability of persons with disability must be considered

May 8, 2021 8:20 am

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is calling on authorities to consider the vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities and those living on the street.

Director Ashwin Raj says this pandemic disproportionately affects them and it is almost impossible for persons with disabilities to practice physical distancing as they would require additional support from caregivers.

Raj says an equal amount of attention must be paid to the vulnerable communities and how some of the measures may affect them.

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He adds that specific steps must be taken to ensure that they have equal access to food, water, health care services, shelter, sanitation, information and the support they need to stay safe.

The FHRADC Director also says that law agencies must ensure that persons with disabilities and their caregivers are treated with dignity and compassion if they are seen not following certain COVID safety protocols.

Raj says law enforcement agencies should not handcuff persons with disabilities in any circumstances as it would obstruct their ability to communicate.

The caregivers and family members of persons with disabilities are encouraged to ensure that assistive products such as wheelchairs, walking canes, walkers, white canes that are used in public spaces are disinfected.

He adds that persons with disabilities, as much as possible, should avoid crowded environments and that children with disabilities must be equally cared for and encouraged to stay safe by staying indoors.

The Commission is also requesting caregivers of persons with disabilities to ensure that those in their care have access to emergency telephone numbers such as toll-free Helpline 158 for COVID-19 Response, 917 for Fiji Police, 1560 for National Domestic Violence Helpline and 1325 for Child Helpline.