Brief abstracts of conference sessions will be listed here once the final program has been confirmed.
Title: Protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in Malawi: Lessons from the Faculty of Law, Disability Rights Clinic, University of Malawi
Lead Presenter: Chome, Theresa
Session Abstract: Protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in Malawi: Lessons from the Faculty of Law, Disability Rights Clinic, University of Malawi Malawi enacted the Disability Act in 2012 which aims at ensuring the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities through the promotion and protection of their rights. Whilst appreciating that it is the government which bears the core responsibility of achieving the intended goals through fulfilling its obligations, this paper recognizes the role that non-state actors like law clinics play in the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The paper therefore aims at examining the work that the University of Malawi, Chancellor College Disability Rights Clinic, as a non-state actor has engaged in since its establishment through an analysis of the various thematic areas of the Clinic. Through a discussion of these themes, the paper aims at sharing the best practices that clinics can employ in the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The paper recognizes that the clinic’s outreach component has played a critical role in raising awareness on disability rights among both persons with and without disabilities. The interdisciplinary approach taken in outreach activities has provided engagement with innovative methods of promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. The paper argues that clinics also play a critical role in achieving change through engaging in research aimed at influencing policy change and the enactment of laws. It further argues that collaboration with other Disability Persons Organisations has played a significant role in the realization of the clinic’s objectives. The paper recognizes the challenges that the legal, social and economic environment present in the effective operation of the clinic. Among others, the role that students play in relation to court cases is limited to research and drafting since the law does not allow for student practice before the courts in Malawi. However, the clinic continues to play a critical role in the protection of disability rights. By being aligned to the objectives of the university, the paper recommends that one of the entry points for success is for clinics to fit themselves within the work that is done in academia to ensure the sustainability of their work.
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