By SANFROSSA MANYINDA
THE Zambia Deaf Youth and Women (ZDYW) and the Southern African Litigation Centre say they will file in an appeal to challenge the judgement by the High Court to dismiss a constitutional challenge of the denial of driving licenses to deaf people.
ZDYW Executive Director Frankson Musukwa said the court did not use a human rights-based approach that looked at recognising and removing barriers that prevented persons with disabilities from enjoying their rights on the same basis as others.
Dr Musukwa said the Judgement was an infringement on the constitutional and internationally- recognized human rights of deaf people in Zambia.
On November 15, 2019, the petitioners filed an application in the high court of Zambia challenging the constitutionality of the application of section 62 as read with section 59 and section 68 of the Road Safety Act No.11 of 2002 to deny deaf people driving licenses solely based on being deaf.
They argued that these were violations of their rights to equality and freedom from discrimination, freedom of movement and privacy and enshrined on the constitution of Zambia.
They stated that the application of the law was also not in line with the persons with disabilities Act No. 6 of 2012 which provided for the enjoyment of rights of persons with disabilities on the same basis as others, including the right to non-discrimination based on disability and equal participation in all aspects of life.
They said in addition, that the application of the law was not in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ( CRPD) to which Zambia was a member party, and international best practice as deaf people were routinely issued with driving permits and are allowed and able to drive in other countries within the SADC region.
But in a judgement written by Justice Chawatama, the high court dismissed the application, finding that the law was not a violation of the petitioners’ right to movement, and that the application of the Act though discriminatory was justified to protect lives.
On June 4 2021, the high court of Zambia in the case of Frankson Musukwa and others vs the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) issued a judgement dismissing a constitutional challenge to the denial of driving licenses to deaf people in Zambia.
And Southern African Litigation Centre Equality Rights Lead Tambudzai Gonese-Manjonjo said this was a lost opportunity for the practical application of the CRPD, which represented a paradigm shift in applying a human rights based approach for persons with disabilities.