Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Focuses on Women and Conditions in Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Korea during its 12th Session

Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesCredit: OHCHR
Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Credit: OHCHR

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) held its twelfth session from September 15 to October 3, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee reviewed State reports from Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea regarding their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Additionally, the agenda included the Committee’s review of the progress made by the working groups established to draft general comments on women with disabilities, accessibility, and legal capacity. Also in September, the CRPD met with national institutions responsible for monitoring and protecting the rights enshrined in the Convention.

State Reports

In response to each State’s report, and in advance of the twelfth session, the Committee determined a list of issues to be examined with regard to each country during the interactive dialogue.

The CRPD asked Belgium to explain its efforts to raise awareness of the situation and rights of persons with disabilities, discuss the situation of foreign children with disabilities, and describe the strategy it has adopted to address the problem of the increased likelihood of young girls and women becoming victims of sexual violence. Additionally, the CRPD asked the government to explain how it planned to respond to increased individual requests for individual personal assistance in Flanders. The CRPD also wished for Belgium to provide data on the percentage of children and adolescents with disabilities who attend schools.

The CRPD asked Denmark to explain when the State would enact comprehensive disability anti-discrimination legislation to apply beyond the area of the labor market. Again, the CRPD was interested in the methods taken to prevent increased violence against women and girls. Denmark was asked to explain how the State raised awareness about the Convention. Additionally, Denmark was asked to describe the protocols in place for security and protection of persons with disability in emergency situations. Finally, the CRPD asked Denmark to provide information about measures taken to prevent the forced sterilization of disabled women and girls.

The CRPD asked Ecuador to provide information on the percentage of women with disabilities enrolled in primary, secondary, and tertiary education or who were of working age and employed. Ecuador was also asked to explain what protection and comprehensive care it offered victims of gender-based and sexual violence. The CRPD requested analysis and statistics regarding children with disabilities of indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian nationalities. Ecuador was asked to confirm that no persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities are permanently institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals. Finally, the CRPD asked Ecuador to describe what steps were taken to amend a law that authorizes abortion without informed consent in cases of rape or statutory rape committed against a woman who is “an imbecile.”

The CRPD asked Mexico to provide information on specific measures taken by the State to combat the aggravated discrimination suffered by women and girls with disabilities. The CRPD was also interested in what measures, if any, the State had taken to prevent and combat multiple forms of discrimination, based on race, gender, social status, and disability. The CRPD asked Mexico to provide information about the measures taken to monitor and combat media campaigns that violate the dignity of persons with disabilities. Additionally, Mexico was asked to explain how, in implementing a new criminal justice system, special measures have been introduced to guarantee rights and due process for people with disabilities. Mexico was asked to explain what actions have been taken to prevent, punish, and eradicate abuse against persons with psychosocial disabilities in psychiatric institutions. Finally, the CRPD asked Mexico to describe the use made of resources obtained through international cooperation for the implementation of the convention, and in what way persons with disabilities have been included in design, development, and evaluation of the projects funded.

The CRPD asked New Zealand to explain whether the provisions concerning accessibility in the Building Act of 2004 and the Building Code applied to new public buildings and private buildings, and whether new public and private buildings would guarantee accessibility. The Juries Act of 191 allows people with disabilities to serve on juries, but they can be dismissed by the judge; the CRPD asked New Zealand to indicate how many people with disabilities may serve on juries. Additionally, the State was asked to give the results of the 2011 review of the New Zealand Sing Language Act 2006, and whether measures were taken to ensure that deaf persons charged with a crime are given proper appropriate legal assistance. New Zealand was also asked to provide information on the independent living model and the Enabling Good Lives project. Finally, the CRPD requested that New Zealand describe the measures taken to stamp out bullying of children with disabilities.

The CRPD asked the Republic of Korea to provide information on concrete measures adopted to eliminate and amend discriminatory practices, policies, and legislation concerning persons with disabilities at the national and local levels. The CRPD was also interested in the implementation of the Framework Act on Women’s Development and the Basic Plan for Women’s Policies, which is part of the Five Year Development Plan for Persons with Disabilities. The Republic of Korea was asked to explain the measures adopted to provide equal access to justice for persons with disabilities. The Committee askd for details regarding the regulations that govern the use of chemical mechanical and physical restrains of persons in psychiatric care, as well as the measures adopted to prevent forced sterilization and forced abortion. Finally, the CRPD requested an explanation of the measures taken to facilitate the personal mobility of people with disabilities.

The States parties’ reports, the CRPD’s lists of issues, the States’ replies to the lists of issues, and information submitting by national human rights institutions and by civil society organizations may be accessed on the 12th session webpage. Recordings of the Committee’s interactive dialogue with each State under review may be viewed on the UN Treaty Body Webcast site.

Meeting with National Human Rights Institutions

Pursuant to Article 33(2), States parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities must create a framework, including an independent monitoring mechanism, to promote, protect and monitor the rights contained in the Convention. For many States parties, this mechanism is the national human rights institution or a separate national independent monitoring mechanism. In keeping with this provision, the Committee met with national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and national monitoring mechanisms (NMMs) from around the world on September 25, 2014. The meeting was the first ever event to strengthen the cooperation and engagement between NHRIs, NMMS, and the CRPD. The meeting was held to discuss the participation of NHRIs and NMMs in the proceedings of the Committee, with a view to contributing to the development of Committee Guidelines on such participation. [OHCHR]

About the Committee

The Committee is a body of 18 independent experts which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 13, 2006 and entered into force on May 3, 2008. It is hailed as the first international human rights treaty of the 21st century and one of the fastest to be ratified by UN Member States. On September 15, 2014, Guyana became the 150th State to ratify the Convention. With Guinea-Bissau’s ratification on September 24, 2014, the Convention now has 151 States parties.

States parties must submit initial reports within two years of ratifying the Convention, and thereafter every four years.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention, which entered into force at the same time as the Convention, authorizes the Committee to: 1) receive and examine individual complaints concerning alleged violations of the Convention; and 2) undertake inquiries in the case of reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of the Convention. Currently 85 States are party to the Optional Protocol.

The Committee also develops general comments, interpreting the Convention’s scope and application in specific areas. It adopted its first two general comments, on accessibility and legal recognition, at its eleventh session. [IJRC] The Committee has also established a working groups to develop a general comment regarding women with disabilities. A working group on public transportation and airline policies was established to examine this topic, but is not responsible for drafting a general comment.

For additional information on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other UN human rights treaty bodies, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.