MDAC carried out a needs assessment in Uganda in March 2010. Uganda has ratified both the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.
The Ugandan government drafted a mental health bill in June 2010 and it will be submitted to parliament any time soon. The intention of the bill is to repeal the 1964 Mental Treatment Act. It departs from previous mental health laws by adding in some human rights elements. However, the bill contains several sections which do not comply with international human rights law. There have been some reported cases of ill-treatment in psychiatric facilities, traditional healing centers, prayers camps and within some families. Poverty and ignorance of rights also serve as hurdles to access justice for persons with disabilities. Some disabled peoples organisations have highlighted the limited understanding of inclusive education in the society which resulted to the government pledging to construct more special schools. Currently there are 10 persons with disabilities in parliament even though the quota system reserves 5 seats for people with disabilities, including 1 seat to represent women with disabilities. : whilst this is to be applauded in raising visibility, there is a risk that disability issues are personalised and ghettoised. Such representation has done little to address the invisibility of people with psycho-social (mental health) disabilities in the political processes.
Advocacy: MDAC is currently collaborating with Mental Health Uganda to provide comments on the current mental health bill and plans to share its comments with the governmental drafting committee.
Capacity-building: In 2010, MDAC supported two Ugandans (a practising attorney and a lay advocate with psycho-social disability from Mental Health Uganda) to participate in its 2010 summer school on “mental disability law in practice” at the Central European University in Budapest, and looks forward to welcoming another practicing attorney from Uganda to its 2011 summer school.