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Gain Confidence Africa NGO started this petition to The Electoral Commission in Uganda, the government through the line Ministry of Gender, Labour and S

VIDEO 2: Detailing activists view on the scientific election and its exclusion of persons with disabilities' participation in the electoral process in the forthcoming 2020-2021 general elections.

The maintenance of the revised electoral road map as released on 16th June 2020, by the Electoral Commission Chairperson in Uganda, Hon. Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon in line with the Ministry of Health, Covid 19 pandemic Standard operating procedures and guidelines which banned public rallies in preference of mass media in print, audio and audio visual such as radio and television, social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and others as campaign platforms by the aspirants, was without due consideration of persons with disabilities.

According to the 2014 National Population and Household Census, persons with disabilities comprise about 12.4% of Uganda’s population of then 34 million people.  It is trite knowledge that they continue to face gross and various forms of stigmatization, discrimination, marginalization, isolation, exclusion and human rights violations. This unfortunate state of affairs persists in spite of the existence of progressive international, regional and domestic legal trellis adopted by Uganda to ensure protection, promotion, fulfilment and realization of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Nationally, Articles 20, 21, 32, 35 of the 1995 Constitution enjoins the state and non-state actors to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Through the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, government has further ‘Renewed its commitment towards Disability Inclusion’ in all aspects of our society.

While preference by most political and non-political actors has been that the election be postponed so that it is inclusive of all persons, without consideration of persons with disabilities the scientific election road map poses the adverse limitation as here to different persons with disabilities.

a) Visually Impaired Persons,

While the electoral commission has not put in place mechanisms to ensure that Visually impaired Persons have a physical feel of the exact physical appearance of candidates and whereas all aspirants are to appear on radios, television talk shows as well as social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and twitter. The failure by the electoral commission to ensure that the selected medium of campaigns will give a detailed physical personal appearance description of individual candidates in the yet to come 2020-2021 general election, is a violation of the right to access to information and the right to vote of persons with disabilities. This failure therefore means that Visually Impaired Persons will neither be able to tell who the intending candidates by appearance and will cast their vote to them in vast ignorance.

We therefore appeal that;  

  1.  The electoral commission compiles audio based detailed description of all candidates to be aired out regularly on both national and private broadcasters
  2. Adoption of dummies in the form of physical appearance of all candidates be considered to enable the visually impaired persons be able to tell the physical appearance of candidates by touching and feeling
  3. Electoral Commission radio and TV programs clearly scheduled for election information and candidates’ campaigns newsletters detailing all election information be provided to visually impaired persons in braille cost-free.
  4. Allow and inform visually impaired persons to come with persons of their choice to assist them in ticking for candidates of their choice prior to the election date rather than polling officials
  5. The electoral commission adopts the use of different shapes to identify candidates and regularly sensitize the visually impaired persons about the meaning of every shape that can be felt [physically] to identify the candidate of their choice, for example a basketball means candidate A, WHILE a box means Candidate B
  6. As an alternative to ticking and thumb printing, visually impaired persons can just be required to pick and place a ballot paper in a ballot box adjacent to a candidate of their choice in a special arrangement but within the main polling station. This should be done upon touching, feeling and proper identification of all the shapes representing all the candidates without necessarily laboring to tick or thumb print in a ballot which even result into invalid votes.
  7. Create special areas for visually impaired persons within the main polling stations and deploy their persons with capacity to understand visually impaired persons.

 b) Persons with hearing impairment

While absence of sign language interpreters on televised TV shows will deny persons with hearing impairments an opportunity to participate in the election process, radio shows program without them being reduced into written and readable materials with be of more harm than good.

We therefore appeal that;

  1.  While radio programs related to elections are reduced into written and readable materials.
  2. ·All televised election-based talk-shows must have sign language interpreters as the case has been for news time 
  3. ·Avail candidates’ manifestos in the different local language in form of appropriate reading material that are cost free and accessible to all persons with hearing problems  
  4. Ensure individual candidates move with personal sign language interpreters in case of physical interface with the electorate

  c ) Those Persons with Physical Disabilities.  

Without ramps on the buildings, special walk ways for persons with physical disabilities, lack of PWDs places of convenience at the polling stations and where election-based information is found, a pile of all these adds on the challenges the scientific electoral process poses on persons with Physical disabilities.

We appeal that  

  1. Election based information and polling stations must be situated in places accessible to all persons including those persons with physical disabilities.
  2. Create within the main polling station a special place for persons with physical disabilities

d)  Other General Challenges:

High cost of data, gadgets used to access social media and internet.

With 82% of personas with disabilities living in abject poverty, a monetary based electoral process to pay over the top tax to access social media platforms, buy data bundles and smart phones is such hindrance to access to information.

We demand that;

  1. Remove or reduce over the top tax to promote easy access to data and social media platforms
  2. Reduce taxes on smart phones and other gadgets that are used to access social media platforms such as Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp
  3. Cost free local televisions channels to increase access to information Reduce or remove

Special thanks to Network of Public Interest Lawyers , The Disability Law and Rights Center and a coalition of other organisations.   

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