Monrovia, September 25, 2019…Former Commissioner of the Bureau Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), Cllr. Abraham Barlu Mitchell says the launch of the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC) Sensitization Manual for the inclusion and accessibility of people living with disabilities at this time is commendable because it helps to place on the national agenda a critical issue affecting a critically vulnerable section of society.
He said people living with disabilities, who like other human beings, deserve the right to life, including the right to decent work and decent living. “However, the Decent Work Act of 2015, which is the Labour Law of Liberia, falls short of recognition of the rights of persons with disability to decent work for decent life as a matter of law that make such right legally binding. This is serious, and requires urgent attention and action.”
Cllr. Mitchell who is currently a Prosecutor at the Ministry of Justice, Republic of Liberia noted that in order to help reinforce the LLC efforts of public sensitization on the urgent need to recognize the right of persons with disabilities to enjoy and exercise their fundamental right to decent life through decent work, there must be a statute that specifically legalizes the rights of citizens in this category of life, so as to compel compliance; such a law shall also provide legal avenue for redress in Liberia.
“Either that we amend the Decent Work Act to include aspects of People Living with Disabilities or we create a separate Act; we believe when the LLC, as a worker union takes the leadership role to help foster the issues and interest of people with disabilities, the government and the world would listen.”
Cllr. Mitchell made these statements when he served as Guest Speaker at program marking the official launched of the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), Accessibility and Inclusion Sensitization Manual for Workers and people living with disabilities was held on Monday, September 23, 2019, at the J. B. McGill Labour Center in Monrovia.
Cllr. Abraham Barlu Mitchell said that the right to life and free association are fundamental rights recognized by the Liberian Constitution which includes the right of people with disability to decent work for decent life.
“It is our understanding that Liberia has signed, since 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); LCC is also part of ILO Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optioned Protocol (A/RES/61/106) that was adopted on 13 December 2006 and entered into force on 3 May 2008.”
He added that there are other key ILO instruments relating to the right to decent work of persons with disabilities and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability at work namely; ILO Convention No. 159 on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons), 1983, and it accompanying Recommendation No. 168. “Liberia as a founding member of the ILO and a signatory to the ILO Constitution which provides that all workers around the world should be protected so that they too can enjoy the freedom of association and the rights of employment must do all to ensure compliance.”
“We must at the same time be reminded that the existence Decent Work Act of 2015 highlights certain fundamental rights related to decent work such as; a) Freedom from forced or compulsory labour; b) Freedom from the worst forms of child labour; c) Equal protection at work places; d) Right to equal remuneration; e) Rights to form organization and to bargain collectively; f) Prohibition of discrimination; and g) Prohibition of sexual harassment.”
Meanwhile, Cllr. Abraham Barlu Mitchell has commended to the Ministry of Labour under the leadership of Minister Moses Y. Kollie for adopting policies gear towards improving the conditions of working people in the Liberia.
“Unlike in the pass where policies were made to protect employers, especially non-Liberians, the current team at the Ministry of Labour has adopted policies to empower ordinary Liberians including people living with disabilities.
The program brought together key stakeholders including the ILO, representatives of employers and employees, Civil Society institutions, line ministries and agencies of government, AIFO, NUOD, National Commission on Disability, Group 77 among others.