The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Major General Jacob Kingu has called for the adoption and use of sign language in justice enforcement and dispensing agencies to enhance communication between deaf people and the government agencies.
This was said during an advocacy event that was held on 12 July 2019 at the Pius Msekwa Hall in Dodoma. The meeting was organised by the Tanzania Association of the Deaf (CHAVITA) themed National Advocacy Engagement session on Sign Language use in Police, Prisons and Judiciary. Representatives from the president’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs, the Police Force, Immigration, Judiciary and other stakeholders participated in the event
‘’It is important that training offered in Law enforcement agencies serves everyone including People with disabilities (PWDs). The courses offered should consider how they handle PWDs as well. In 2010 the Government passed the People with Diabilities Act (2010) that emphases the use of sign language in accessing social services. We will continue to ensure the inclusivity of PWDs as they are part of our community but face challenges in accessing their right. Deaf People’s welfare and ability to contribute to national development depend on communication through sign language use. I applaud Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) for supporting people with disabilities.
Data that was presented shows that FCS has spent over TZS 400 Million working closely with the government in prioritising the rights of marginalised groups that include the Deaf through capacity building so that they can actively participate in development processes. Partnerships cannot exist without prioritisation of PWDs rights. Deaf people can contribute socially, politically and economically to the nation development and should not be sidelined’’ he said.
Kwimba OCD Anthony Masanzu stated they have started taking action to ensure that deaf people are accessing public services and are fairly treated. ‘’ We have started to take action in supporting inclusivity and communication. Some officers have taken short courses on sign language to end the challenges facing the Deaf in accessing vital public services’’ he said
Speaking at the event, Hon. Amon Mpanju, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Constitutional and Legal Affairs Ministry stated that deaf people face challenges in accessing their constitutional rights. He said that Law enforcers may resort to using force in the apprehension of deaf people due to communication barriers. ‘’Deaf people are not able to communicate well with law enforcers and vice-versa. Police stations and prisons should recruit sign language experts. Sign language should also be taught to government agencies for improved communication ’’ he said
Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Advisor, Mr Justice Rutenge highlighted FCS’ efforts in working towards inclusivity since the organisation’s inception in 2002.
‘’FCS works on ensuring that CSOs in Tanzania play a catalytic role in development processes so that they can change the lives of Tanzanians. FCS has been working with PWDs since our inception in 2002 through our grants and capacity building so that PWDs can raise their voice, advocate for their rights and work for an inclusive community with representation at national as well as grassroots levels. We are in the third year of implementing our 2016-2020 strategic plan where we have prioritised marginalised groups, for instance by dispensing more than a half of available funds to implement project interventions that will improve the lives of people with disabilities. In 2018 we funded ten Disabled People Organizations, and this year, we have supported 15 organisations to implement programs to improve the use of sign language among other challenges deaf people face.’’
CHAVITA is one of Foundation for Civil Society’s grantees that are working to implement interventions that support inclusivity for people with disabilities, particularly deaf people in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. This year, FCS has issued TZS 200 million to 15 CSOs in 14 regions in Tanzania.