The Deaf Bulletin 2019 Issue 5 covers the following topics:
- Know your rights: Interpretation in Zimbabwe’s Courts.
- Inclusive Education necessary for all to achieve their potential.
- Sexual Reproductive Health Training for the youth in Caledonia.
Know your rights: Interpretation in Zimbabwe’s Courts – By Michelle Mutogo.
The judiciary in Zimbabwe consists of all judicial officers, namely judges and magistrates who decide civil and criminal cases in courts. Every court has a different role to play and has a separate jurisdiction from the other. Due to this, there are different procedures to be taken when a person goes to these respective courts. There is a hierarchy of the court system as shown on the picture.
This article will focus on the different procedures in terms of getting Sign Language interpretation in the Magistrate’s Courts, both Civil and Criminal. The difference between these two courts is that civil courts are for cases between individuals like maintenance claims and divorce. In the criminal courts, the government files a case against someone for committing a crime like rape, murder, theft, and fraud.
When in the Civil court, the parties are required to look for their own interpreters if they cannot use English for communication during the proceedings. This encompasses all the languages including Shona, Ndebele and Sign Language. This places an obligation on the person to look for an interpreter before the court session. Same applies to a Deaf person. They have to look for a Sign language Interpreter who is court-appointed and pay for the services on their own.
In the Criminal Court, the court will only provide for an interpreter for the accused, which means that if the accused is Deaf, the Sign Language Interpreter will be provided for by the court, but if it’s the complainant who is Deaf, the court will not provide for an interpreter. From this, it actually means a Deaf complaint will not be able to understand fully the process of what will be going on during the proceedings unless they find their own interpreter.
Access to justice involves improving the accessibility of courts and the procedures that happen within them. It is the ability of individuals to seek and obtain a remedy through formal institutions of justice for complaints in line with human rights standards. For the Deaf, access to Sign Language interpretation is an important part of access to justice. The ability to follow proceedings whether one is the accused or the complainant is fundamental to a fair trial. Denying interpretation or requiring a complainant to pay for the interpretation they need denies and often delays access to justice for the Deaf.
Inclusive Education necessary for all to achieve their potential – By Tsitsi Mupoperi
Section 27 of the Constitution, is progressive and provides for inclusion in education but without an inclusive education policy, inclusion cannot be enforced and realized. Presently, learners with disabilities are not fully supported in the education system and are therefore not accessing quality education because of the lack of supportive accommodations in schools and ultimately the absence of an inclusive education policy.
Inclusive education provides an opportunity for continuous improvement in the education system by changing classroom practice and empowering schools and teachers to be able to meet the needs of learners with disabilities. An inclusive education policy describes reasonable accommodations that are essential to typical practice and procedure such as a Sign language Syllabus for Deaf learners, Braille and or audio material for Blind learners, large print textbooks for learners with visual impairments, alterations to physical features to provide extra support for learners with physical impairments and assessment accommodations that are compatible with a learner’s disability.
Inclusive education is a human rights-based approach which recognizes that barriers, including discriminatory practices and attitudes, in society must be removed to ensure all children achieve their potential. Inclusive schools contribute to the creation of inclusive communities that accept diversity and remove barriers. Inclusive education fosters a belief in each child’s potential and that children do not learn in the same way but that every child must be supported to reach their full potential.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, with the support of stakeholders, is currently in the process of overseeing the drafting of inclusive education policy to provide a framework ensuring that all children are included in the education system and are able to thrive and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, this process is taking longer than anticipated and continues to disadvantage learners with disabilities who stand to gain more from the policy.
DZT requests that the inclusive education policy be completed because it will create school environments that meet the needs of children with disabilities and ultimately improve the learning outcomes of learners with disabilities as well as produce rounded and independent citizens.
Sexual Reproductive Health Training for the youth in Caledonia –
Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) held a training session in Caledonia which sought to train the youth on being peer counselors on Sexual Reproductive Health issues. The training session held at Mushawedu Community Hall was in conjunction with Mashambanzou Care Trust and Disability HIV and AIDS Trust (DHAT).
The initiative was meant to train youth with disabilities and non-disabled out of school champions on how to offer Sexual Reproductive Health Information, education and support to their peers. Teenagers were equipped with information on how to handle challenges that arise from adolescence and were also educated on the importance of inclusion of persons with disabilities on developmental platforms.
The youth further gave personal experiences on the challenges they faced during adolescence adding that there are not enough platforms for them to express themselves and were proffered with life skills in order to curb sexual-related challenges. Teenagers with disabilities also highlighted that families needed to play a hugely supportive role in order to remove barriers that impede their development.