• Cameroun
  • Maître Christophe Tchudjo & Joseph Ombe
  • Nigeria
  • Ngozi C Umeh & Ramola Adeola
  • South Africa
  • Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis & Chazanne Grobler

This is the first issue of the African Disability Rights Yearbook (ADRY). Drawing inspiration from the European Yearbook on Disability Law, it is the first publication of its kind that focuses on Africa. It aims to bring into prominence an area traditionally neglected by both African governments and academics. Following in the wake of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it is the first peer-reviewed journal to focus exclusively on disability as human rights on the African continent. The Yearbook, which is projected to appear annually, is set out in three sections. Section A contains academic articles: Section B consists of country-based research, charting recent developments on disability rights legislation, case law and policy developments in selected African states; and Section C deals with relevant developments in the African Union (AU) and African sub-regional organisations. The 2013 Yearbook aims to set out the situation as at 31 December 2012.

The publication of the Yearbook in 2013 is a milestone in the engagement on the rights of persons with disabilities by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, under whose auspices this publication was conceived and is being produced. It marks a highlight in the efforts taken by the Centre over the last few years to bring more academic attention to the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa. These efforts have only been possible with the support of the Open Society foundations, in particular, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Over the last years, OSISA has collaborated with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, to strengthen the teaching and research in law faculties in the Southern Africa on disability rights. The collaboration consists of the following elements:

(a) Efforts are made to assist in the building of capacity of law faculties in the region, through the attendance of the LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) with a focus on disability rights by staff members from these law faculties, The staff members subsequently return to their faculties, institute and develop teaching on disability rights, and institutionalise faculty-based activities and ‘centres’ around disability rights. So far, the following faculties have participated: Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique (Faculdade de Direito); the University of Botswana; the University of Malawi (Chancellor College, Faculty of Law); University of Namibia; Midlands State University, Zimbabwe (Faculty of Law); University of Zambia; and University of Dodoma (Tanzania); University of Namibia. These faculties/centres have the responsibility/mandate to research on disability rights; promote awareness and sensitise key stakeholders in the population about the rights of persons with disabilities and the existing legal framework; elaborate position papers and advocate for particular legal reforms; keep record of/identify and engage in litigation of selected cases pertaining to the violation of the rights of persons with disabilities; and provide legal advice to persons with disabilities.

(b) The Centre presents a one-week intensive short course on disability rights to build capacity and to disseminate information on disability rights more broadly in Africa. This course is attended by participants from all over the continent.

(c) Together, the participating faculties are developing a curriculum for the teaching of an undergraduate course on disability rights at law schools in the region.

(d) Academic work on and awareness about disability rights is stimulated, in particular, through the publication of this Yearbook, an academic conference, and a first Southern African Disability Rights Moot Court Competition.

This Yearbook is the accomplishment of many. It has been a project long in planning and preparation, and time consuming in execution. The publication is the end-product of collaborations between the Centre and numerous partners, in particular a long-standing partner, the Faculty of Law at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

A very sincere and profound word of thanks goes to the following:

The four editors: the convening editor, Prof Charles Ngwena, who joined the Centre for Human Rights last year; he worked with Dr Ilze Grobbelaar-Du Plessis (UP); Prof Helene Combrinck (UWC) and Dr Serges Djoyou Kamga (UNISA) as co-editors. It is only their dedication and devotion that has made this publication possible. Prof Ngwena was not only the convening editor, but also the editor in charge of Part A. He bore the brunt of the responsibility to keep the project going, and to inspire and lead all involved towards the ever-approaching deadline. Drs Grobbelaar-Du Plessis and Serges Djoyou Kamga took responsibility for Part B, and Prof Combrinck for Part C. They each sacrificed enormously in terms of time and energy, in order to get to this end product.

Thanks to all contributors, and all reviewers of contributions, for dedicating themselves to this thankless task.

Kate Painting acted as a most appreciated editorial assistant. She meticuoulsy followed up references, guaranteed consistency in style, and ensured felicitous language use. At the Centre, Thuto Moratuoa Hlalele, Yolanda Booyzen and Kevashinee Pillay also provided logistical and other support.

The Yearbook is published by Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), based at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. The patient and professional contribution of Lizette Hermann is much appreciated.

We also thank the members of the advisory board, who agreed to assist with the policy direction, review of manuscripts and lending credibility and lustre to this Yearbook by associating themselves with this endeavour. The Yearbook is very fortunate to have representation from all corners of the globe, including individuals and institutions at the leading edge of disability rights research, training and teaching.

Lastly, to the Open Society Foundation - and specifically OSISA - and its staff: Many thanks in particular to Louise Olivier, for her confidence, inspiration and consistent support, which took the Centre and me personally along an exciting and challenging new road; and to Louise Ehlers and Patricia Mwanyisa, who came on board later. Other Open Society staff also inspired and played important roles along the way.

In line with the right of access to information and knowledge, this Yearbook is accessible freely as a free full downloadable document on the Centre’s website www.chr.up.ac.za

On behalf of all those involved, and of the Centre, I wish to express the hope that this Yearbook will soon come to be regarded as an indispensable tool to understand and chart legislative and policy developments on disability rights in Africa, and that it will contribute to bridge the gap between the discourse of rights and its practical application and actual realisation.

Frans Viljoen
Director, Centre for Human Rights

The editors of the African Disability Rights Yearbook (ADRY) are pleased to announce the publication of the first issue of the ADRY. The ADRY is a peer-reviewed journal that is published once a year with 2013 as its augural year.

The ADRY comes in the wake of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006 and its ratification by an increasing number of states, including African states. The CRPD underscores the status of persons with disabilities as rights-bearers rather than recipients of charity. In its preamble, it underscores that persons with disabilities should have ‘full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with others’. Yet it is a truism that in the African region, the majority of persons with disabilities live in abject poverty and at the mercy of charity. Disability-related oppression, marginalisation and socio-economic exclusion remain deeply embedded in African socio-economic systems, notwithstanding that we are beginning to see promising signs of change and transformation is some African states.

The CRPD is paradigm-setting. It constitutes a shift from traditional ways of looking at disability as individual impairment to focusing on state obligations to dismantle a disabling environment and, in its stead, create an enabling environment which is inclusive and accommodates all human beings in their diversity. It is a call to arms for African human rights systems. The CRPD creates a new vision of disability and inclusive equality which must find its expression not merely in policy and lawmaking. More crucially, to overcome the legacy of systematic inequality and discrimination that persons with disabilities have endured and continue to endure, the vision of the CRPD and its injunctions require implementation at the domestic level. They require the African region and its people to transform the landscape of persons with disabilities in ways that fulfil disability rights and tangibly guarantee equal participation in civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres.

Against the backdrop of the CRPD and a changing human rights landscape for persons with disabilities, the ADRY seeks to contribute towards promoting the respect, protection and fulfilment of disability rights in the African region through providing an annual forum for critically examining issues that pertain to the disability rights of individuals and peoples of the region, and reporting on disability rights-related developments at a country and African regional levels. It comprises three sections. Section A contains articles that interrogate critically contemporary human rights issues that are of concern to persons with disabilities in the Africa. Section B contains summaries or overviews of developments relating to the rights of persons with disabilities in selected countries. The section aims to report on a segment of African countries on a rotation basis each year. A country-based researcher is appointed for each country that is reported. The report is prepared using a standardised questionnaire or template. Section C - the last section - provides an overview of developments relating to disability rights at the sub-regional and regional level of the African Union.

Section A of this inaugural issue features articles by: Enoch MacDonnell Chilemba, examining the right to primary education of children with disabilities in Malawi; Serges Djoyou Kamga, also examining the right to primary education of children with disabilities but in respect of Cameroon; Elizabeth Kamundia, exploring the application of right of persons with disabilities to living independently and being included in the community in the context of Kenya; Esau Mandipa, analysing the legal and institutional frameworks for realising the rights of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe; Janet Lord and Michael Ashley Stein, interrogating the implementation of the CRPD in the African region; Magdolna Birtha, examining the involvement of the disability movement in policy-making through a case study on Zambia; Charles Ngwena, critically appraising the decision of the Western Cape High Court in Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability v Government of the Republic of South Africa as it applies to the right to education of learners with intellectual disabilities; and Likando Kalaluka, analysing the prospects and effectiveness of litigation pertaining to disability rights in Zambia. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to external reviewers who peer-reviewed contributions in this section.

Section B reports on the state of disability rights in the following countries: Cameroon by Christophe Tchudjo and Joseph Ombe; Côte d’Ivoire by Pierre Olivier Lobe; Ghana by Esther Gyamfi; Mozambique by Emerson Casimiro Uassuzo Lopes; Namibia by Ruusa Ntinda; Nigeria by Ngozi Umeh and Ramola Adeola; The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by Florent Mubaya Kiwele Kya Bantu; South Africa by Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis and Chazanne Grobler; and Tanzania by Peter Josiah Shughuru. The reports on Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and the DRC appear in French. Where practicable, the ADRY will endeavour to publish country reports other than in English as part of accommodating diverse linguistic communities in the African region.

Section C on sub-regional and regional developments contains the following contributions: Helene Combrinck’s overview of a disability rights framework and developments in the African regional human rights system; Lorenzo Wakefield’s commentary on progress by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child as they relate to the rights of children with disabilities; and commentaries on three economic sub-regions by: Lucyline Murungi on East Africa Community (EAC); Aquinaldo Mandlate on the Southern African Development Community (SADC); and Benedicta Armah on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

We earnestly hope that the ADRY will contribute towards the promotion of disability rights in the African region. More pertinently, we hope that the ADRY will become an invaluable forum and source for all stakeholders, including persons with disabilities, disabled peoples’ organisations, human rights advocates, judges, scholars, teachers, legislators, and policymakers as they consider ways of transforming the disability landscape at the domestic and/or regional levels in Africa in ways that complement the vision of the CRPD.


  • Charles Ngwena (convening editor)
  • Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis
  • Helene Combrinck
  • Serges Djoyou Kamga

Open Access Policy

The African Disability Rights Yearbook is an Open Access Journal and provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. In accordance with the definition of the Budapest Open Access Initiative all content published by the African Disability Rights Yearbook is made free to users without any registration, subscription or other charges. Users are permitted to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, or use them for any other lawful, non-commercial purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author.