On August 17, 2015 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) commenced its 14th session in Geneva, Switzerland. During this session, which will end on September 4, the Committee will review the reports of Brazil, the European Union, Gabon, Kenya, Mauritius, Qatar, and Ukraine and adopt concluding observations. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ICRPD).
Additionally, the agenda and programme of work include the Committee’s review of the progress made by the working groups established to draft general comments on Articles 6 (women with disabilities), 19 (right to independent living and to be included in the community), and 24 (right to education). The Committee will also discuss how to implement General Assembly Resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the human rights treaty body system; consider complaints submitted under the Optional Protocol to the Convention; discuss how to strengthen cooperation with United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, and NGOS; adopt lists of issues on reports by States parties; and examine its methods of work.
The 14th session will be live-streamed on the UN Treaty Body Webcast, and archived sessions will also be available.
Brazil was asked to provide information on measures taken to: include segregation as a form of discrimination in its domestic laws and policies; combat discrimination, particularly violence against women and girls with disabilities; increase the representation of women with disabilities in society; eradicate disability stereotypes through awareness campaigns; provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities, including criminal defendants, witnesses, and jurors during the legal process; and prohibit the forced sterilization of women and girls with disabilities. The Committee also asked Brazil to provide information on steps taken to: assist persons with disabilities to live independently rather than in residential institutions, support students with disabilities in mainstream education, provide access to sexual and reproductive health services, and make libraries and other cultural services accessible to all persons with disabilities. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, List of issues in relation to the initial report of Brazil, UN Doc CRPD/C/BRA/Q/1, 22 May 2015.
European Union (EU)
In response to the Committee’s list of issues, the EU discussed the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which addresses how to implement the Convention at the EU level, including provisions concerning education and training, participation, and equality; the 13 national awareness campaigns concerning violence against women that the European Commission has co-funded; legislation that has been implemented in order to improve the accessibility of vehicles for persons with disabilities; and steps that have been taken to include the needs of disabled persons in disaster management. Regarding access to justice, the EU provided information about negotiations that are currently taking place concerning procedural safeguards for suspected or accused children in criminal proceedings to ensure, among other things, that they have access to a lawyer, and Directive 2010/64/EU, on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings. The EU also discussed measures it has put into place to combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in their communities, and increase the use of sign language and Braille. The European Commission is considering a proposal for a European Accessibility Act, which would foster the independent living and full inclusion of people with disabilities, and is working on humanitarian guidelines on shelter and settlements. With respect to ensuring access to healthcare, education, and social security protection, the EU noted that Member States are responsible for legislating in these areas. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Replies of the European Union to the list of issues, UN Doc CRPD/C/EU/Q/1/Add. 1, 8 July 2015.
Multiple civil society organizations, including the European Disability Forum (report) and Autism Europe (report), submitted reports for the Committee’s consideration concerning the European Union’s implementation of ICRPD. Additionally, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), comprised of NHRIs from Europe, submitted a report for the Committee’s consideration.
The Committee asked Gabon to provide information on measures taken to: include persons with disabilities, especially those from rural areas, in policymaking; align national legislation with the provisions of the Convention; introduce anti-discrimination legislation; allocate resources for women and children with disabilities; and implement the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s (CRC) recommendations concerning children with disabilities and access to healthcare, education, and employment. Gabon was also asked to comment on steps taken to: eradicate disability stereotypes through awareness campaigns; increase physical access to buildings and transportation; provide legal aid and sign language interpreters in courtrooms; officially recognize Gabonese sign language and ensure that mass media in available in accessible formats, including Braille; and support sports associations for persons with disabilities. The Committee also asked Gabon to discuss whether it has removed marriage and voting restrictions for those with disabilities. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, List of issues in relation to the initial report of Gabon, UN Doc CRPD/C/GAB/Q/1, 22 May 2015.
One civil society organization, the Fédération Nationale des Associations des et pour Personnes Handicapées du Gabon (FNAPHG), submitted a report for the Committee’s consideration concerning Gabon’s implementation of ICRPD.
In response to the Committee’s list of issues, Kenya explained that it has: assigned the National Gender and Equality Commission’s (NGEC) to protect persons with disabilities; increased the involvement of disabled persons organizations in national policy matters concerning disability; put into place policies to ensure that sexual and reproductive services, including services related to HIV/AIDS, are provided without disability-based discrimination; and promoted community living for persons with disabilities. Regarding access to justice, the national Constitution guarantees that persons with disabilities can be represented by authorized representatives, including non-State agencies. The report notes that legislation provides for a legal aid scheme, and that the judiciary seeks to ensure that courtrooms are wheelchair accessible and that they provide sign language interpretation. Kenya also noted efforts it has made to: outlaw female genital mutilation; provide inclusive education, for example by putting into place mechanisms to investigate and provide redress when students are denied access to education and by training teachers and administrators to ensure they treat children with disabilities respectfully; investigate cases where people are dismissed from or denied employment based on a disability; and make the electoral process more accessible to persons with disabilities. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Replies of Kenya to the list of issues, UN Doc CRPD/C/KEN/Q/1/Add. 1, 10 July 2015.
Several civil society organizations, including Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (report) and Mental Disability Advocacy Center (report) submitted reports for the Committee’s consideration concerning Kenya’s implementation of ICRPD. Additionally, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), the NHRI in Kenya, submitted a report for the Committee’s consideration.
In its reply to the list of issues from the Committee, Mauritius discussed its plan to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention once it withdraws its reservations concerning situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, to introduce signage in Braille in public facilities, and to provide inclusive education for persons with disabilities. In response to other topics from the Committee’s list of issues, Mauritius responded that it has created a Special Education Needs Unit in the Ministry of Education, passed anti-discrimination legislation regarding employment and voting, and increased access to transportation and buildings for persons with disabilities. Additionally, Mauritius discussed the awareness campaign it has implemented about “valuing people with disabilities,” the legislation it has introduced that allows persons with disabilities to participate in sports locally and internationally, and the regulations it has put into place concerning the safe evacuation of persons with disabilities during humanitarian emergencies. Mauritius is also developing the second volume of the Mauritian sign language dictionary. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Replies of Mauritius to the list of issues, UN Doc CRPD/C/MAU/Q/1/Add. 1.
One civil society organization, the Federation of Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, submitted a report for the Committee’s consideration concerning Mauritius’s implementation of ICRPD.
The Committee requested information from Qatar on steps it has taken to: establish a comprehensive domestic violence protection system; increase political participation of women with disabilities and women’s rights organizations; introduce measures to protect children with disabilities; conduct awareness campaigns to combat stereotypes about persons with disabilities; increase accessibility to buildings, information, and technology; ensure access to justice, including the use of professional sign language interpreters; and prohibit impairment-based detention of children and adults with disabilities, including involuntary hospitalization. Qatar was also asked to provide information on measures taken to: protect women and girls with disabilities from forced sterilization; ensure that shelters and hotlines effectively address allegations of violence; support persons with disabilities who choose to live independently; increase access to health, education, and employment; and promote participation in cultural activities. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, List of issues in relation to the initial report of Qatar, UN Doc CRPD/C/QAT/Q/1, 21 May 2015.
The Committee asked Ukraine to provide information on steps taken to: combat discrimination against persons with disabilities; protect woman and girls with disabilities from gender-based violence; prevent the institutionalization and abandonment of children with disabilities; eradicate stereotypes about persons with disabilities through awareness campaigns; provide persons with disabilities with access to transportation and social infrastructure; assist persons with disabilities during humanitarian emergencies; and ensure the right of all persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, manage their finances, and secure bank loans. Ukraine was also requested to provide information on: ensuring access to justice, including by providing sign language interpreters; providing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities; increasing access to information, including the use of Braille and other easy to read formats; ensuring access to education, employment, and healthcare; and removing restrictions on the right to vote. See Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, List of issues in relation to the initial report of Ukraine, UN Doc CRPD/C/UKR/Q/1, 22 May 2014.
Five civil society organizations, including Equal Rights Trust (report) and Lumos (report), submitted reports for the Committee’s consideration concerning Ukraine’s implementation of ICRPD. Additionally, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, the NHRI in Ukraine, submitted a report (only available in Russian) for the Committee’s consideration.
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is one of ten committees of experts established to assess States’ implementation of specific UN human rights treaties. To learn more about the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the other human rights treaty bodies, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.