On 2 and 3 October 2013 SALC hosted a training workshop in Windhoek, Namibia on Disability Rights Strategic Litigation. The workshop was facilitated by Abeda Bhamjee and Caroline James from SALC, and was attended by Namibian lawyers and representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs).
The aim of the workshop was to deepen understanding of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and of how it can be used in domestic litigation relating to disability rights. Yvonne Dausab and Ruusa Ntinda from the University of Namibia gave a presentation on disability legislation in Namibia which was a useful counterpoint to the more international themed discussion on the CRPD. This ensured that all participants left with an understanding of how domestic and international law can intersect and complement each other in litigation.
Representatives of the DPOs provided examples of discrimination they, and members of their organisations, experience on a daily basis. Access to public buildings, including schools, and a lack of provision for hearing and visually impaired Namibians severely restrict their ability to fully engage in society. These experiences were a moving and useful backdrop to discussions around the general principles of the Convention, and the specific rights it protects, and it is clear that in many cases people with disabilities are not getting the protection the Convention requires.
After the presentation on strategic litigation in general and the factors to consider before launching legal proceedings, lawyers with experience in strategic litigation were able to give their perspective on what types of cases may be successful, and DPOs were able to explain some of their frustrations in the past with legal proceedings.
The formal and informal discussions over the two days ensured that partnerships between lawyers and DPOs were strengthened, awareness was created amongst the legal participants of the potential for assistance, and possible cases were identified. It was a fruitful workshop which will hopefully lead to some tangible benefits for DPOs and the people they represent in Namibia.
The Training Materials from the Workshop can be accessed here:
For further information on the workshop or SALC’s disability rights programme please contact Caroline James (firstname.lastname@example.org).