Hope for the disabled community in Seychelles |20 November 2023
By Mandy Bertin
The elderly and disabled division within the family department has been commended on their vibrancy and work being done to improve the well-being of people living with disabilities in the country.
The head of human rights unit, Dr Shavana Haythornthwaite; human rights advisor, Dr Justin Pettit; and human rights officer, Alithia Barampataz met members of the media last Friday at the elderly and disabled division’s office, Oliaji Trade Centre to give an overview of their mission in Seychelles and the work done during the week with various partners of the division, as well as the way forward in regards to people living with disabilities.
Also present were the division’s director general, Rosa Morin; director for the disabled, Marco Gerry; and the desk officer for Commonwealth at the Foreign Affairs department, Hervé Pool.
“This week has been really phenomenal as we have been working closely with the elderly and disabled division to look at persons with disabilities. We have worked with a number of partners to look at different aspects such as data, exploitation, violence and abuse, working with people with disabilities and people who have lived real experiences,” Dr Haythornthwaite said.
“We have found a number of things and there are a lot of work being done by the division but we have also noted a few areas which need improvement. Some key areas we will be working with the division will be in regards to the law, and we have seen that there is a need to have more collaboration with the media, there needs to be more awareness and people need to be educated on this matter.”
Dr Haythornthwaite said there still is a small level of discrimination which exists and there is a need to empower people living with disabilities.
“We have also looked at data collection and on how we can improve this aspect and evidence base when we are trying to create strategies and solutions to protect the rights of people with disabilities. So mainly we are here to strengthen and supplement what is already being done.”
Dr Haythornthwaite said the division has the drive to work with other departments within the government and collaboration is key as disability cannot be addressed in silos.
The team was in Seychelles in 2022 to carry out a needs assessment before being able to provide support in the required areas, and from there a report was drafted. From the needs assessment, several recommendations were presented based on the key findings.
Mrs Morin said the capacity building aspect was the first recommendation put into practice.
The disabled rights and protection within the legislative framework is another recommendation which Mrs Morin has described as a pertinent one which needs to be addressed.
She added that through the capacity building training held last week, a key point that came forth was the mindset of the population in regards to how people with disabilities are perceived.
Mrs Morin noted that more awareness is needed so as to allow people to understand that even if these individuals with disabilities, they have rights like any other person. For his part, Mr Pool said the elderly and disabled division reached out to the department to seek assistance with international partners to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a task which needs much support and collaboration. The Foreign Affairs department supported by reaching out to Commonwealth, and from there a team came to carry out the needs assessment.