U.S. Adviser trains Government and NGOs on Disability Rights Reporting

Disability stakeholders are now equipped to report on government compliance with the recently ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  This follows five days of training with international disability law adviser for the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, Allison deFranco.  The Embassy partnered with the United Nations Development Program and the Consortium of Disability Organizations to have Allison share her extensive experience working to develop, implement and enforce legal frameworks consistent with the UNCRPD.

deFranco also held discussions with Speaker of the House of Representatives Bridgid Annisette-George, the Attorney General’s Office and Minister of Social Development and Family Services Cherry-Ann Critchlow-Cockburn.  The workshop targeted the inter-ministerial committee for the T&T CRPD, civil society/NGOs and the disabled community.

The CRPD was ratified in 2015 following visits by John Wodatch, pioneering disability rights attorney and Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, world-renowned human rights lawyer and expert on disability rights.   The ratification mandates the T&T government to report on measures taken to comply with the Convention.  Allison’s engagement and training provided attendees with credible and reliable sources of information to build capacity and confidence in their interactions with international counterparts.

UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative to T&T Richard Blewitt pledged the UN’s commitment to continue working with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and civil society in taking the necessary steps to move forward towards the implementation of the UNCRPD.

He said: “The strong commitment shown during Allison’s visit of all stakeholders to bring forward legislation and action on the ground for an inclusive society was fantastic to witness.”

Disability Consultant, Sharda Ramlakhan described the workshop as an “eye-opener.”   She added: “Allison’s expertise helped us develop an appreciation for the vast amount of technical work required and also provided us with the tools to do this work efficiently.  The disability community in T&T has certainly been enriched by this experience and we look forward to working closely with the US Embassy on similar initiatives in the future!”

Allison is a member of the Harvard Law School Project on Disabilities.  She has worked with and advised disabled people’s organizations from over 30 countries.  She holds a J.D. with a Certificate in Disability Law and Policy from Syracuse University College of Law, and a M.S. in Education with a Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University School of Education.