General News of Saturday, 1 December 2018
Parliament has begun investigations into the circumstances under which a person with a disability was denied access to the public gallery of the House.
The physically challenged man, Alex Tetteh, said he was prevented from entering the gallery because he would not be able to stand up for the Speaker of Parliament.
Parliament in a statement has responded to the incident saying it did not tolerate such discrimination.
“Parliament would like to place on record that Parliament regards people with disabilities as a critical public and a strategic partner and would like to indicate that if there was an instance where any person with the physical challenge was discriminated against then it was most unfortunate.”
The statement also noted that Parliament was flexible with the rule that mandates MPs to stand for the Speaker of Parliament.
Order 86 (2) of Parliament’s Standing Orders says “by the special indulgence of Mr. Speaker, a Member unable to conveniently stand by reason of sickness or infirmity, may be permitted to speak sitting.”
“Parliament holds the view that members can enjoy this dispensation, and so must the rest of the citizenry who the House ultimately represents and would like to inform the general citizenry that it holds the rights of each and every Ghanaian in the highest regard,” the statement added.
Mr. Tetteh, who is the President of the Centre for the Employment of Persons with Disability, called on the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, to intervene in the matter when he spoke to reporters.
“I feel sad. I feel that my rights as a citizen to observe Parliament have been denied and I think that the Speaker must address this. The fact that I cannot stand, does not mean that I disrespect any laws or I disrespect any authorities. It is because of my disabilities. It is no fault of mine to become disabled,” he remarked.
Mr. Tetteh was at Parliament house as part of the Red Friday movement by the RTI Coalition to put pressure on MPs to pass the Right to Information Bill.