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Bahamas ‘commits’ to UN Convention on Rights of Persons With Disabilities
By Matt Maura, BIS
Sep 27, 2013 - 1:20:35 PM

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Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin signs onto the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities on behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas at 9:30am Tuesday, September 24, 2013, at the United Nations in New York, U.S.A. Mrs. Griffin called the signing historic, while adding that Persons With Disabilities in The Bahamas should celebrated the signing as it will lead to the enactment of Disability Legislation in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

UNITED NATIONS, New York --- The Commonwealth of The Bahamas became the 157th country to sign onto the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Tuesday, setting the framework for the introduction of national disability legislation.

The signing, which took place at 9:30am, comes as the country celebrates its 40th anniversary as an independent nation. The Convention, along with the proposed national disability legislation, is expected to give Bahamians with Disabilities true “independence” as it is expected to protect and enhance the rights of Persons With Disabilities in The Bahamas.

Minster of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin, who signed the Convention on behalf of the Government and the people of The Bahamas, called the moment “historic.”

“The Bahamas is proud to be among the Signatories to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Mrs. Griffin said during an address following the signing.

“In so doing, we commit to take the necessary steps to act in good faith in fulfilment of the purposes of the Convention.”

Mrs. Griffin, was accompanied by Ms. Mellany Zonicle, Director of Social Services, Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development; Ms. Iris Adderley, Consultant, Disability Affairs Unit, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development; Ms. Allison P. Booker, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Nations and Miss Sasha Dixon, Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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Miss Sasha Dixon (foreground), Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Nations and Ms. Allison P. Booker, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Nations, record the historic signing. Director of Social Services, Ms. Mellany Zonicle, stands in the background.

Ms. Adderley, who lives with a disability and has been a strong proponent for disability legislation and disability rights, was overcome by the moment – having to be comforted by Mrs. Griffin.

“This is long overdue. Long overdue,” Ms. Adderley whispered through tears as she and Minister Griffin shared a long, warm embrace.

Mrs. Griffin and Ms. Adderley were soon joined in a long, group hug by Ms. Zonicle, Mrs. Booker and Miss Dixon, as they celebrated the moment before quickly composing themselves.

“As the Commonwealth of The Bahamas forges ahead to establish its place on the world stage, it is extremely important that the dignity, basic human rights, and fundamental freedoms of all of its people are protected and provided for,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“In my capacity as Minister of Social Services and Community Development with responsibility for Disability Affairs, I proudly affix my signature to this Convention on behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”

Minister Griffin said becoming a Signatory to the Convention and the enactment of legislation, were two of the commitments made by the Christie Administration upon assuming office in May, 2012.

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Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin comforts Ms. Iris Adderley at the conclusion of The Bahamas becoming a Signatory onto the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Tuesday, September 24, at the United Nations in New York. Ms. Adderley, who lives with a disability and is a Consultant in the Disability Affairs Division, was overcome with emotions.

The Convention has been ready for signature for seven years.

During a meeting with members of organisations representing Persons With Disabilities in The Bahamas early last week, Mrs. Griffin promised those representatives that “God willing, we will become a Signatory by early next week”

That has now happened.

“I am certain that the community of Persons With Disabilities is extremely pleased that the Convention has been signed even though it has taken much longer than they would have wanted to,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“This is a time to be happy. This is a time to be proud. Shortly, I will place a Bill before Parliament to protect and enhance the rights of Persons With Disabilities in The Bahamas,” Minister Griffin said.

“The enactment of legislation for persons with disabilities is also a commitment of the Christie Administration and God’s willing, this too, will soon be fulfilled,” Mrs. Griffin added.

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