Disability Rights Violations
Is this Discrimination against a Person with Disabilities?
Report submitted by Mr. Jason Clarke and the TTDPI National Executive
Right to contribute to the Convention negotiations initially DENIED!
The saga began with a decision by Mr. Aldington Spencer, Secretary of Health and Social Services in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to deny funding to Mr. Jason Clarke to attend the Eighth Session of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee negotiating the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ICRPD) from August 14-25, 2006. Mr. Clarke is a person with disabilities who the Government of Trinidad and Tobago appointed as its representative to the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) negotiations in 2004. He is under contract with the Disability Affairs Unit, Tobago House of Assembly as a Social Services Officer. Mr. Clarke had attended the preceding 5 Sessions.
Mr. Clarke is also the 2nd Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter of Disabled Peoples' International (TTDPI) and Secretary of the TTDPI Tobago Region. He brought this development to the attention of the President of TTDPI, Mr. George Daniel who on behalf of the National Executive contacted Mr. Orville London, Chief Secretary of THA, who allegedly said, "Mr. Spencer had already made his decision, and I have to support the decision of my Secretary."
The National Executive of TTDPI intervened and raised the matter with the relevant authorities at all levels. Upon exhaustion of these avenues, the National Executive alerted all media houses in Trinidad and Tobago of the development and later initiated actions toward the removal of Mr. Spencer, since his actions were being perceived as threatening to the progress for full inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.
Mr. Spencer took to the airwaves allegedly saying, "Even though Cabinet (of Trinidad and Tobago) had made the decision for Mr. Clarke to attend, the proper procedure was not followed."
The President of TTDPI and later, Mr. Clarke was interviewed by Radio Tambrin in Tobago that drew overwhelming support from citizens in Tobago who called in and vented their anger at the whole situation, and even pledged and provided funds to allow Mr. Clarke to attend the second week of the AHC negotiations at the UN Headquarters from August 21-25, 2006, awarding him the privilege of joining the official Government Delegation of Trinidad and Tobago that was led by the Head of the Trinidad and Tobago Permanent Mission to the UN, Ambassador Philip Sealy, First Secretary at the Mission, Mr. Eden Charles and Mrs. Angela Edwards, Director of the Disability Affairs Unit in the Ministry of Social Development of Trinidad and Tobago. Mr. Clarke was able to then contribute to the negotiations and later witness the historic informal adoption of the Convention on Friday, August 25, 2006.
The National Executive of TTDPI joined Mr. Clarke in thanking the concerned citizens of Tobago for their heartening support and contributions in a press release.
Right to work threatened??
However, the situation took an unsavory turn when the delegation of Mr. Clarke and Mr. Daniel returned from New York. Mr. Spencer allegedly made further pronouncements that were construed as threats to Mr. Clarke's continued employment with the THA.
Mr. George Daniel and Mr. Michael Fraser, President and 1st Vice President respectively of TTDPI were interviewed on radio in Trinidad before the start of the Eighth Session, about the incident and followed up with additional radio interviews regarding these new developments.
Mr. Daniel was supported by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and corporate citizens to attend the Eighth Session of the United Nations AHC negotiations and on his return, Mr. Fraser accompanied him to Tobago to plan a rally for Thursday, 7th September, 2006 seeking the removal of Mr. Spencer.
Seven (7) persons with disabilities from Trinidad journeyed to Tobago to lend support on the day of the rally. The rally culminated at Calder Hall, Scarborough, Tobago where the media congregated to find answers. TTDPI was supported by both the disabled and able-bodied citizens of Tobago asking for the removal of Mr. Spencer.
A press conference took place on Thursday, 7th September, 2006 at Calder Hall to expose and clarify the pronouncements made by Mr. Spencer. More information will follow as the situation unfolds....stay tuned!