‘People with disabilities are getting a raw deal’

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MASERU — The Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) says people with disabilities are getting a raw deal from the police and courts.

Nkhasi Sefuthi, a human rights officer at LNFOD, yesterday told a workshop for police officers aimed at educating them on how to handle cases involving people with disabilities that they were concerned with the treatment of people with
disabilities.

He said people with disabilities were sometimes denied their fundamental human rights by crime investigators, prosecutors, magistrates and other laws officers.

“Deaf people and people with mental disabilities are sometimes denied their right to be heard as their cases are dropped on unclear grounds,” he said.

Other individuals with disabilities had reported that their cases were dropped on basis that there was lack of sufficient evidence.

“Even in cases where the victim is able to identify the suspect, the legal officers are often reluctant to investigate cases involving victims with disabilities,” he said.

“These acts are a clear violation of inherent right of the person with a disability to be heard.”

He said some people were taking advantage of “these prevailing practices by the law officers to commit sexual offences against people with disabilities knowing very well that the law will not take its course”.

Police officers who attended the workshop however said the LNFOD should make a request to the Ministry of Education to include sign language in the school curriculum.

They admitted that they were sometimes not competent enough to deal with the challenges posed by the deaf community.

They however warned that people with disabilities should not expect any special treatment when they go against the law.

The workshop was organised to ensure people with disabilities get justice.

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