Fijian Parliament committed to support persons with disabilities

(Accra, Ghana, 1st October) – The Fijian Parliament is strongly committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities participate fully in our legislative processes. They are amongst the key stakeholders that Parliament, through our Standing Committees consult or seek submission from, during the review of legislation or oversight of Government.

These were the comments by the Hon. Viam Pillay, the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) Regional Champion during their Regional Champion Meeting on the fringes of the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) currently underway in Accra, Ghana.

Hon. Pillay highlighted that the Fiji Parliament had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and also enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2018, a milestone legislation that domesticates and puts into action the principles of the Convention.

“One important provision of this law is accessibility. The Fijian Parliament has ensured that its premises are accessible and cater for the needs of persons with disabilities. We have progressively provided ramps for wheelchair access to the Parliament Chambers and Committee rooms, in addition to elevator access to the main Parliamentary offices.”

“We already have sign-language interpretation for the live televised sittings of Parliament. This system has been in place since 2017.”

Hon. Pillay acknowledged the support by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the CPwD for the provision of special audio headsets for the sign-language interpreters.

“We will continuously look for ways and means to strengthen accessibility and Parliamentary services for persons with disabilities.”

Meanwhile, the Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Social Protection, the Hon. Sashi Kiran attended the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Steering Committee meeting.

As a member of the CWP Fiji Branch attending the meeting for the first time, Hon. Kiran was able to understand the projects carried out by the CWP and how Fiji can advance in its efforts to educate women voters and to support women in politics.

Meanwhile, the Hon. Speaker, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu will attend the CPA Executive Committee meeting tomorrow and the CPA Small Branches workshop where he will speak on the topic, ‘Tackling Climate Change Through Environmental Impact Assessments’.