Physically challenged threatens to sue CJ, A-G ''Over disability unfriendly court building''
A physically challenged court user has threatened to sue the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General if steps are not taken to make the Supreme Court user-friendly for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
In a letter detailing his intention to sue the state, S.Y. Felix Ntoso said the absence of ramps and bannisters at the stairs to the entrance, coupled with the steep stairs in the building, made it difficult and unfriendly for PWDs to access the building.
He said this was in direct contravention of the Persons With Disability Act, 2006 Act 715.
Mr Ntoso stressed that after sending two separate letters dated December 22, 2021, and August 11, 2022, to draw the Chief Justice’s attention to the issue, the Office of the Chief Justice wrote back to him on August 11, 2022, assuring him that the problems identified in his letters would be addressed in due course.
“But to date, nothing has been done; hence, my intention to take the legal course.
“I regret to say that this far, no steps have been taken to make the building user-friendly to all manner of users, despite the assurances from the Office of the Chief Justice.
“Sadly, I have no option than what the constitution of the land has prescribed.
I see this as a human rights issue and write to notify your office of my intention to institute legal action against the Chief Justice and the Attorney General at the High Court, Human Rights Division if the defects are not corrected,” Mr Ntoso added in a letter sighted by the Daily Graphic.
Responding to the concerns raised by Mr Ntoso, the Deputy Judicial Secretary, Justice Richard Apietu, in a letter dated August 11, 2022, said:
“I have been directed by His Lordship the Acting Chief Justice to inform you that the Judicial Service is yet to receive the budgetary allocation for the construction of the ram and bannisters at the entrance of the Supreme Court Building”.
The Judicial Service added that it made provision in its 2022 budget for the installation of the new lifts at the Supreme Court.
The Constitution, PWD Act, 2006 Act 715
Article 29(1) (8) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana makes provision for the inclusion, protection and participation of persons with disabilities in the socio-cultural and economic activities of Ghana.
Ghana adopted a national disability policy in 2000, which provided the framework for the drafting of the National Disability Law, Act 715 and passed in 2006.
In 2012, the Parliament of Ghana ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with its optional protocol.
The Persons with Disability Act 2006, (Act 715), gave a moratorium of 10 years for all public buildings to be made accessible and available to persons with disabilities
The 10-year moratorium granted in the Persons with Disability Act 2006, (Act 715) for all public buildings to be made accessible to persons with disabilities elapsed last year, but some public buildings and facilities remain inaccessible.
Section 6 of the Act on access to public places states that the owner or occupier of a place to which the public has access shall provide appropriate facilities that make the place accessible to and available for use by a person with a disability.
Also in Section 7, Access to Public Services, the Act states that a person who provides service to the public shall put in place the necessary facilities that make the service available and accessible to a person with disability.
Per the Act, anyone who contravenes Sections 6 and 7, among the other sections, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or to both.