Friday, May 11, 2018

Uganda and Lesotho ratify the Marrakesh Treaty

Expert panel discussion on the Marrakesh treaty during SCECSAL 2018 
The Republic of Uganda and Kingdom of Lesotho have become the 36th and 37th countries respectively in the world to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. 

It’s exactly two weeks today since the SCECSAL 2018 general assembly resolved that all member countries who are signatories to the Marrakesh Treaty push for the ratification of the multilateral agreement. 

During the Expert Panel Discussion on the Marrakesh Treaty on the 27th April 2018 in Entebbe Uganda, it was unanimously agreed that member countries should take on this task seriously and this will form the basis for future discussions like in Namibia 2020. 

The massage was well received as two SCECSAL member countries Uganda and Lesotho have joined the ever growing list of countries who have ratified the treaty. Other countries in Africa who have already ratified the treaty are: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Tunisia and Mali. 

During SCECSAL 2018 in Entebbe, Ms Beatrice Guzu the executive secretary National Union of Women with Disabilities said: "Before the treaty, one could not access information from other countries in a format suitable for blind persons. This situation resulted in reproducing what was already available at an extra cost just because sharing such material is blocked by the copyright jurisdiction". 

The treaty therefore acknowledges the legitimate commercial interest of the publishers who have that as a living and argued that by this sharing; no one is injuring the publishers because they are not publishing it in accessible formats for blind persons. 

In other words their target population excludes the blind which would by no means reduce their profits if the treaty holds.  Before the treaty, less than 5% of all books published were made accessible to the blind in the world. It was difficult to have current books in accessible formats including Braille, audio or large prints. 

Accordingly, global uproars have called for ratification in all member countries. This would ensure that published material in accessible format can be exchanged across the borders of those countries that have ratified the Treaty.  In response to the global calls, Uganda and Lesotho have joined the list of countries to ratify the treaty.  

This is a very strong statement in the history on the two African countries and for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. 
We congratulate the two countries and we look forward to domesticating this into the respective national legal framework. 

The said treaty will enter into force, with respect to the Republic of Uganda, on July 23, 2018 and with respect to the Kingdom of Lesotho, on July 30, 2018.

Congratulations to all!

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