Somali Disability Empowerment Network (SODEN) concluded yesterday, November 16, 2022, two days of a regional-level consultative forum for disability rights that focused on the challenges and barriers faced by people with disabilities in accessing justice and other essential services that are fundamental to everyone’s life.
The forum was attended by all the sectors whose duties relate to justice directly or indirectly, including the second-highest ranking police officer, Mrs Zakia Hussein, the deputy of the Somali police force commander, Gen. Mire Ahmed Matan, the religion affairs officer of the police department, Bedadir Regional Administration disability director, Mr Ahmed Hassan Warsame, Sheikh Abdulkadir Sheikh Somoow, spokesperson for Somali Mullah Umbrella, Ali Abdullahi Salad, member of the Somali Disability Agency, Mohamed Dahir, from the Ministry of Justice, and dozens of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and individuals from civil and social organizations attended the forum.
Through her remarks, General Zakia Hussein, Deputy Commander of the Somali Police Force, says: “I’m responsible for public affairs in the police department; therefore, concerns of PWDs in the justice system will be taken into account, and I will ensure inclusiveness and accessibility in our department.”
Mrs Zakia pledged that she will ensure that the police department will remove any sort of barriers against people with disabilities in the police stations, including ensuring accessibility and fair service to everyone.
While Benadir Disability director Mr Ahmed Hassan Warsame says: “These days have been long awaited by people with disabilities PWDs, and I’m very glad to see today of different backgrounds individuals coming to address and solve challenges facing Somali disability.”
He mentioned that people with disabilities are gradually integrating with society; the environment is becoming better than it was 10 years ago! These changes are happening because of the efforts made by SODEN and other individuals who advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
Finally, Sheikh Abdulkadir Sheikh Somehow, the spokesperson for Somali Scholer’s umbrella, says: “No one can take away rights and dignity that Allah gave to his servant; therefore, our community should understand that impairment is not a person’s choice or fault.” In addition, he went on to explain how Islamic law protected people with disabilities and the role they played in leadership and management during the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
He mentioned that Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, empowered people with disabilities through leadership. And they were great parts of his administration at every stage.
At the end of the forum, we release a communiqué that summarizes the outcome of our two-day forum on TV, including Somali National Television (SNTV), to broadcast our message towards the removal of barriers and establishing an inclusive society in Somalia.
This forum was organized by the SODEN which advocates for the rights of people with disabilities under the support of the EAJ program funded by USAID.