High Commissioner for Human Rights says that inequalities can erode United Nations’ pillars but that human rights offer hope

Human Rights Council MORNING

6 March 2019

Council Continues its Interactive Clustered Dialogue on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and of Persons with Albinism

The Human Rights Council this morning heard the presentation of the annual report and oral update by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. It then continued its interactive clustered dialogue with Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, and with Ikponwosa Ero, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

Presenting her annual report and oral update, Ms. Bachelet focused on explaining how inequalities in income, wealth, access to resources, and access to justice constituted fundamental challenges to the principles of equality, dignity and human rights for every human being. Inequalities affected all countries. Even in prosperous States, people felt excluded from the benefits of development and deprived of economic and social rights, leading to alienation, unrest and sometimes violence. To achieve the 2030 Agenda, the world’s States needed to advance on tackling inequalities � inequalities of resources, income, power, access to justice and with respect to the basic conditions for human dignity.

Inequalities were a driver of several of the global trends which were of greatest concern to the Human Rights Council and other inter-governmental bodies, the High Commissioner stressed. Involuntary and precarious migration was a case in point. She underlined that inequalities and the failure to give equal weight and respect to all human rights had the power to erode all three pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, development, and human rights. However, human rights provided hope. They bound humanity together with shared principles and a better future, in sharp contrast to the divisive, destructive forces of repression, exploitation, scapegoating, discrimination and inequalities.

The Council then resumed its interactive clustered dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, and with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. The summary of the presentation of their reports, which took place on Tuesday, 5 March, can be read here.

In interim remarks, Ms. Devandas Aguilar called on States which still had in place reservations to article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to lift them. That article called for the elimination of the deprivation of liberty for persons with disabilities. Such deprivation had to be completely prohibited. States should approach that question from the rights-based perspective. Community-based responses could be found, and they greatly improved the quality of life for persons with disabilities.

Ms. Ero, in interim remarks, emphasized the need to identify those that had been left behind and to take specific measures to improve their situation, otherwise they would just be taking cosmetic measures. The most pressing issue was to set priorities by setting out concrete measures, without which persons who needed attention would be ignored. Ms. Ero hoped the Human Rights Council would address the issue of harmful practices related to witchcraft, and called on it to consider a resolution on witchcraft-related harmful practices as a harmful practice, the same way that attention had been given to female genital mutilation and child marriage.

In the discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities, speakers voiced concern about the widespread deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities on the justification that they were provided with specialized care. Millions of children with disabilities were cut off and segregated from their communities. Speakers agreed that disability-inclusive social protection systems could contribute significantly to reducing the deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities by ensuring income security and access to social services. Some speakers reminded that the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities required broad knowledge, technical equipment and funding that was often lacking in developing countries.

On persons with albinism, speakers recalled that persons with albinism continued to face serious and deep-rooted obstacles to accessing basic human rights; States had to investigate and prosecute attacks against them. Given the prejudices faced all over the world by persons with albinism, those persons were often prevented from accessing specialized health services, social services and legal protections when their rights were violated. Accordingly, speakers supported the recommendations of the Independent Expert, which called on States to strengthen their national legal mechanisms with a view to guarantee access for people with albinism and their families to have rapid redress to any violations of their rights. Speakers regretted that trafficking of body parts of persons with albinism did not constitute a criminal offence and that witchcraft practices were not addressed by law.

Speaking were Mexico on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, Pakistan, Estonia, Sudan, Israel, Angola on behalf of the African Group, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Croatia, Tunisia, Cuba, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Finland, Djibouti, Togo, Australia, Portugal, Uruguay, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Chile, Italy, Philippines, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Morocco, Iceland, New Zealand, Algeria, Nepal, Iran, Bangladesh, China, Georgia, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Hungary, Nigeria, Malaysia, Malta, Cameroon, Japan, South Africa, Indonesia, Tanzania, Malawi, Paraguay and Afghanistan. The United Nations Children’s Fund also spoke.

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Office de la protection du citoyen (OPC) of Haiti, International Bar Association, Action Canada for Population and Development, and World Barua Organization (WBO).

The Council will next meet today at 3 p.m. to conclude its interactive clustered dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, and with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. It will then hold its annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Annual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/40/3)

Presentation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights of her Annual Report

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her annual report, explained that it outlined the efforts of her Office to assist States to uphold all human rights, at a time when humanity faced many serious challenges. Those included the existential threat of climate change, technological developments, unbearable civilian suffering in multiple armed conflicts, displacement, youth unemployment, structural economic injustices, xenophobia and hate speech, and gross inequalities. Inequalities in income, wealth, access to resources, and access to justice constituted fundamental challenges to the principles of equality, dignity and human rights for every human being. Inequalities affected all countries. Even in prosperous States, people felt excluded from the benefits of development and deprived of economic and social rights, leading to alienation, unrest and sometimes violence. In Sudan, for the past several months, people protesting harsh economic conditions, and bad governance, had been violently dispersed by security forces, sometimes using live ammunition. In Zimbabwe, protests against austerity measures had also been met with unacceptable violence by security forces. In Haiti, protests had broken last month over rising food prices and corruption. In France, the gilets jaunes had been protesting what they saw as exclusion from economic rights and participation in public affairs. The situation in Venezuela clearly illustrated the way violations of civil and political rights could accentuate a decline of economic and social rights. It also showed how those swiftly deteriorating economic and social conditions gave rise to even more protests, even greater repression, and further violation of civil and political rights. In the context of Nicaragua’s very serious social and political crisis, the resumption of national dialogue could constitute a significant step to address the grave problems facing the country. In the occupied Palestinian territory, the devastating impact of the occupation on economic and social rights was closely linked with violations of civil and political rights. The High Commissioner noted that imposing economic hardship on Palestinians did not make Israelis safer, and she regretted Israel’s decision to cancel the temporary international protective presence in Hebron, which had helped to prevent and mitigate some human rights violations.

To achieve the 2030 Agenda, the world’s States needed to advance on tackling inequalities � inequalities of resources, income, power, access to justice and with respect to the basic conditions for human dignity. When States had agreed to leave no one behind, they had made a profound commitment to address them. The right to development also made clear that real development could only be based on civic participation. If the world sought the most sustainable and effective development, it had to ensure a broad space for civil society and human rights defenders. The High Commissioner expressed shock at the number of killings of human rights defenders around the world. Restrictions on the civic space were being enacted by numerous States across several regions. Ms. Bachelet voiced concern about the apparently arbitrary arrest and detention, and alleged ill-treatment and torture of several women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. In Turkey, she called on the authorities to view critical or dissenting voices as valuable contributors to social dialogue, rather than destabilizing forces. In China, she said that her Office sought to engage with the Government for full access to carry out an independent assessment of the continuing reports pointing to wide patterns of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In India, where there had been significant poverty reduction in overall terms, inequality remained a serious issue. In addition, reports were received indicating increasing harassment and targeting of minorities.

Inequalities were a driver of several of the global trends which were of the greatest concern to the Human Rights Council and other inter-governmental bodies. Involuntary and precarious migration was a case in point. Armed conflict was frequently cited as a root cause of involuntary migration. But it was also driven by inequalities � poverty, discrimination, oppression, violence, poor governance, climate change and violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. That challenge could be addressed by taking the comprehensive and balanced human rights measures outlined in the Global Compact for Migration. The continuing movement of people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to the United States could be viewed as a failure to ensure that development reached everyone, with persistent violations leading to profound inequalities. The comprehensive development plan being developed by Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean was a welcome response to that challenge. In the United States, the new migrant protection protocols, which restricted access to asylum and other forms of human rights protection, were a source of concern. The High Commissioner also raised concern about Australia’s imminent transfer of migrants from the Manus Island and Nauru to new detention centres. She was encouraged by the recent announcements of the European Union expressing interest in setting up broader channels for regular migration, as an integral element of sound migration governance. She also commended Germany’s successful programmes to help migrates integrate into the economy and society, as well as legislation in several countries (including Finland, Portugal and Spain) which enabled the entry and stay of migrants in vulnerable situations, based on human rights grounds.

Stressing that inequalities undermined peace and security, by fuelling grievances, extremism and conflicts, the High Commissioner reminded that her Office had been implementing an innovative approach aimed at reducing the risk of harm to civilians during counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel. It was working with the G5 Sahel Joint Force operating in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Ms. Bachelet encouraged Cameroon to consider the benefits of greater investment in justice and in upholding economic and social rights. In Myanmar, economic interests and activities appeared to be a key factor driving both violence and displacement by the Myanmar military, together with the dehumanization of the Rohingya, and long-term displacement. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, broadening the issues under discussion to address severe human rights violations could support concrete outcomes to benefit the population of the country. In Syria, justice and accountability would remain essential to any reconciliation. In Yemen, the High Commissioner was deeply concerned about the suffering of civilians, despite the current ceasefire. Amid those negative trends, there were some hopeful areas in which far-sighted leadership sought to advance civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. For example, in Ethiopia, reforms had been sought to address a wide spectrum of human rights issues, including benefit to sustainable development. There was continued progress with respect to women’s leadership and equality, such as in Tunisia where a woman had been elected mayor of the capital. A record number of women had been elected to the United States Congress and marked steps for diversity had been made. But in many parts of the world women were attacked, preyed upon, exploited, silenced, and robbed of their dignity and rights. Migrant women and girls were at a high risk of gender-based violence.

Continuing her presentation, the High Commissioner reminded that during the current session of the Council, her Office would present thematic reports and country-specific and oral updates or reports on Afghanistan, Colombia, Cyprus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Venezuela and Yemen, as well as on the occupied Palestinian territory. In Libya, escalating violence since the beginning of the year could spark an even more chaotic situation, given the increasingly fragmented political context and continuing lawlessness. The High Commissioner remained concerned about the ongoing tensions in Kashmir, as shelling and firing on both sides of the line of control continued to contribute to loss of life and displacement. She encouraged both India and Pakistan to invite her Office to monitor the situation on the ground, and to assist both States to address the human rights issues. In the Philippines, several sources estimated that up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the context of the campaign against illegal drugs since mid-2016. Despite serious allegations of extrajudicial killings, only one case had been subject to investigation and prosecution. The High Commissioner encouraged the Philippines to adopt a public health approach and harm reduction initiatives that complied with human rights standards.

Concluding her presentation, the High Commissioner underlined that inequalities and the failure to give equal weight and respect to all human rights had the power to erode all three pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, development, and human rights. Inequalities threatened the world’s opportunity to achieve sustainable, inclusive development. They stirred grievances and unrest, and fuelled hatred, violence and threats to peace. They forced people to leave their homes and countries. They undermined social progress and economic and political stability. But human rights built hope. They bound humanity together with shared principles and a better future, in sharp contrast to the divisive, destructive forces of repression, exploitation, scapegoating, discrimination and inequalities. Some countries were choosing to adopt principled and more effective policies, grounded in the full range of human rights. By taking steps to advance civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as mutually reinforcing, they could count on building a strong basis for sustainable development and social harmony.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and with the Independent Expert on Albinism

Mexico, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, recognized that the institutionalization of persons with disabilities, including children, represented a great challenge for human rights. The countries also emphasized the need to curtail all forms of deprivation of liberty and coercion directed at persons with disabilities, including in the mental health settings. European Union agreed that disability-inclusive social protection systems could contribute significantly to reducing the deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities by ensuring income security and access to social services. The European Union expressed deep concern about the discrimination and violence suffered by persons with disabilities in different countries and regions. Pakistan noted that it had been adopting a range of constitutional, policy, legal, and institutional measures for ensuing the rights of persons with disabilities in line with its constitutional guarantees and societal norms. Pakistan involved people with albinism in all programmers and activities without any discrimination.

Estonia noted that deprivation of liberty in Estonia was permitted only in exceptional circumstance, and no distinction in these rules was made for persons with disabilities. Estonia underlined that changes to legal and policy frameworks would not be sufficient unless accompanied by changes in social attitudes towards persons with disabilities, and asked the Special Rapporteur which training and awareness raising measures were most efficient in this regard. Sudan noted that it was improving access to public facilities for all persons with disabilities. Sudan was also working through an inclusive education programme to enhance the training of 4,800 teachers. Israel noted that all courts in Israel, as public facilities, were obliged by law to be accessible. Regarding the institutionalization of persons with disabilities, Israel noted that it was making progress and would continue to improve the situation of persons with disabilities and respect their dignity.

Angola, on behalf of the African Group, stated its support for the resolution adopted by the African Union last year rejecting all forms of discrimination against persons with albinism. Angola also committed to address the causes of violence against those victims. United Kingdom reiterated its commitment to a rights based approach to disability inclusion and outlined a number of legislative measures that addressed this, including the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act. Plans were in place to improve the treatment of and support for persons with mental health conditions via additional investment in the National Health Service. India took note of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, which suggested reforms for the full implementation of the right to security of persons with disabilities. India remained committed to eliminating those barriers with a view to promoting the welfare of persons with disabilities.

Brazil stated that the Law for Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities was a key priority for the Government in its first 100 days. Measures already adopted included training of members of the security forces, judiciary and prison systems about the rights of persons with disabilities with a view to prevent freedom of deprivation of persons with disabilities. United Nations Children’s Fund was deeply concerned about the disproportionate number of children with disabilities in institutions. In some areas of the world it was 17 times higher than for abled bodied children. They were also deeply concerned about the disproportionate number of attacks on children with disabilities, as barriers to accessing justice for children were even higher than they were for adults. Croatia had adopted an inclusive approach to the issue of deprivation of liberty. Its laws obliged the prison system’s employees to undertake regular specific training relating to the treatment of persons with disabilities, and the National Strategy included training for persons with disabilities about their rights and safety in prisons.

Tunisia noted that persons with disabilities were often victims of erroneous stigma and discrimination. Tunisia had adopted a policy to promote their rights, based on the principle of combatting exclusion and marginalization. Persons with disabilities enjoyed legal capacity. Cuba stated that the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities required broad knowledge, technical equipment and funding that was often lacking in developing countries. Persons with disabilities were protagonists of Cuba’s development. Jordan said that its constitution and legislation guaranteed full rights to persons with disabilities. No one, and especially persons with disabilities, could be deprived of their liberty; they had to be granted access to courts, and to centres of training and rehabilitation.

Iraq informed that it had enacted a law protecting persons with disabilities, and had amended its law on persons with special needs. It was also increasing social protection in order to cover all the categories of vulnerable persons, including persons with albinism. Libya endorsed all the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, including those on raising awareness. The liberty and security of persons with disabilities must be fostered; those were the priorities for the Libyan Government. Somalia remained committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities had access to the full enjoyment of life. Persons with albinism continued to face serious and deep-rooted obstacles to accessing basic human rights; States had to investigate and prosecute attacks against them.

Finland said that it was intolerable that persons with disabilities were overrepresented in mainstream settings of deprivation of liberty such as prisons and different detention centres. In Finland, the National Institute of Health and Welfare had undertaken a number of research projects, which posed a set of questions on disability that had been developed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics. Djibouti welcomed the positive progress in the legislative framework in Africa towards tackling discrimination against persons with albinism. However, Djibouti remained concerned about attacks against persons with albinism, particularly children, despite progress achieved, and emphasized that greater awareness was needed. Togo noted that, given the prejudices faced all over the world by persons with albinism, these persons were often prevented from accessing specialized health services, social services and legal protections when their rights were violated. That was why Togo supported the recommendations of the Independent Expert, which called on States to strengthen their national legal mechanisms with a view to guarantee access for people with albinism and their families to have rapid redress to any violations of their rights.

Australia remained firmly committed to fully implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensuring that no one in Australia was deprived of their liberty or unable to access quality health services based on their disability. Australia recognized that persons with disabilities enjoyed legal capacity on an equal basis with others, in all aspects of life. Portugal regretted that the simple fact that the trafficking of body parts did not constitute a criminal offence, or that witchcraft practices were not addressed by law constituted an upfront and major barrier to access justice for persons with albinism. Portugal underlined that under no circumstances could persons with disabilities be deprived of their liberty on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. Uruguay commended steps taken by various States to guarantee equal access to justice for persons with disabilities and albinism, as was their obligation under the Sustainable Development Goals. Uruguay called on States to step up their work to properly implement article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to carry out awareness raising campaigns to promote an understanding and respect for persons with albinism.

Thailand stated that in efforts to address negative attitudes by the families of persons with disabilities, they had found that the community could play a very positive role, particularly in rehabilitating persons with disabilities. They also stressed the importance of raising awareness through the media and making communities accessible for all. Sierra Leone stated that persons with albinism had always enjoyed the same rights and freedoms as others, including access to justice. Sierra Leone encouraged States to continue to strengthen accountability efforts and to provide training to members of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. Venezuela said that the legal framework set out that all persons with disabilities should live at home where possible, and the law prevented discrimination. Venezuela shared the Special Rapporteur’s concern that social and cultural barriers prevented persons with albinism from access to justice, and believed that the specific needs of persons with disabilities should be studied in order to improve their access to justice.

Chile was committed towards working to ensure access to justice for all persons with disabilities. It recognized that persons with psycho-social disorders, children and the elderly were especially vulnerable. What measures could States take to prevent these vulnerable groups from being deprived of their liberty. Italy had transferred the penitentiary healthcare service to the Ministry of Health’s competence. Italy had also closed down judicial psychiatric hospitals and replaced them with regional health residences. Italy asked the Special Rapporteur to provide best practices on alternative rights based models. Philippines had ensured that domestic laws and policies were harmonized with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, through consultations with non-governmental organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities. They asked to hear examples of best practices for inclusive employment in the private sector for persons with disabilities.

El Salvador said it had in place a social protection and development act for persons with disabilities. It had re-modelled its public space to make it accessible for persons with disabilities, and had set up shelters with rehabilitation programmes. Costa Rica voiced concern about the widespread deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities on the justification that they were provided with specialized care. Millions of children with disabilities were cut off and segregated from their communities.

Interim Remarks

CATALINA DEVANDAS AGUILAR, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, called on States which still had in place reservations to article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to lift them. That article called for the elimination of the deprivation of liberty for persons with disabilities. Such deprivation had to be completely prohibited. It was necessary to change the debate, the Special Rapporteur noted. States should not address how to ensure that deprivation of liberty was legal, but rather discuss how to prohibit any deprivation of liberty for persons with disabilities. States should approach that question from the rights-based perspective. Community-based responses could be found, and they greatly improved the quality of life for persons with disabilities. Ms. Devandas Aguilar reminded that there was not enough information about all types of disabilities with respect to deprivation of liberty. Thus, States should work on better data collection. The Special Rapporteur agreed that national mechanisms for the prevention of torture should also have disability as part of their mandate. The debate on the disability-specific deprivation of liberty should get away from the procedural aspect. States had the possibility of developing alternatives when they did not have institutionalized systems. They could start developing community-based responses. The Special Rapporteur also warned of mental health acts being adopted when they ran counter to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

IKPONWOSA ERO, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, noted that the Sustainable Development Goals were highly linked to access to justice. Ms. Ero emphasized the need to identify those that had been left behind and to take specific measures to improve their situation, otherwise they would just be taking cosmetic measures. The Independent Expert noted that the Pan-African Parliament had engaged in specific and concrete activity to promote and protect the rights of persons with albinism. Ms. Ero also highlighted the development of a task force by key stakeholders across the continent to implement the regional action plan on albinism in Africa. The most pressing issue was to set priorities by setting out concrete measures, without which persons who needed attention would be ignored. Ms. Ero hoped the Human Rights Council would address the issue of harmful practices related to witchcraft, and called on it to consider a resolution on witchcraft-related harmful practices as a harmful practice, the same way that attention had been given to female genital mutilation and child marriage. A tremendous amount of success had been achieved in the past year, including an albinism conference in Asia, as well as the Pan-African Parliament developing regional guidelines. Ms. Ero also noted the use of non-legal and non-political means, including a cultural event led by musician Salif Keita in a Malian village where a five-year-old girl had been decapitated, and her head used in witchcraft practices. Ms. Ero said that she did not agree that persons with albinism in Sierra Leone lived in peace. She also noted that women and children would be the theme of her next report to the Council.

Interactive Dialogue

Bulgaria reminded that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities committed all States parties to realizing the right of persons with disabilities to live independently in the community. Could the Special Rapporteur provide some good practices of public awareness raising campaigns? Azerbaijan believed that public awareness raising campaigns could change the negative attitudes about persons with disabilities into positive recognition of their skills. In that regard, Azerbaijan had launched various campaigns to emphasize that persons with disabilities were contributing members of society. Egypt reminded that its Constitution affirmed the rights of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life, and agreed that it was necessary to step up awareness raising, especially among public officials and public service providers. Persons with albinism were treated in Egypt as visually impaired and they received assistance for skin treatment.

Morocco stressed its commitment to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, with its flagship programme Accessible Cities, adding that it had set up a ministerial commission to ensure the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Iceland expressed concern that persons with disabilities were deprived of their liberty across the world, regardless of the economic development of countries. Could progress with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities be envisaged for the future? New Zealand shared concern about disability-based deprivation of liberty, especially about the institutionalization of children under the guise of specialized care. That approach was fundamentally inconsistent with international human rights standards.

Algeria said that the principle of non-discrimination was a fundamental principle. The families of persons with disabilities benefited from multiple forms of assistance in Algeria, including health and social care centres around the country. In addition, the creation of psychiatric centres for children in hospitals had alleviated existing problems. On albinism, Algeria stressed the need for targeted measures to address discrimination against persons with albinism. Nepal said its 2017 act on the rights of persons with disabilities had marked a departure from the welfare based approach to a human rights based approach. It had introduced the notion of social accountability, and had provided a number of provisions, including ensuring access to free vocational training and subsidized credit facilities for entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities. Iran stressed the correlation between providing accommodation of court proceedings on the one hand and the realization of the right to liberty with regard to persons with disabilities on the other hand. As part of this, Iran had provided training courses for members of the judiciary with emphasis on physical and non-physical accessibility of the judicial system. Bangladesh stated that whilst it recognized the need to minimize the presence of persons with disabilities in prisons and hospitals, it believed that categorizing all people in such institutions together might not be appropriate. The 2013 Persons with Disabilities’ Rights and Protection Act safeguarded a number of rights for persons with disabilities, including to education and employment.

China stated that with 85 million persons with disabilities, China had one of the largest such populations in the world. The care for persons with disabilities had been incorporated in the national social development plan. As such, the Government had taken measures to improve employment support, rehabilitation projects and the human rights framework for such persons. Georgia was committed to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities not just by legislative measures, but also by changing administrative measures and infringing practices. Georgia regretted that Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions prevented the Government from sharing the human rights protection framework with persons with disabilities there.

Burkina Faso proposed a human rights-based approach to promote and protect the human rights of all persons with disabilities. All citizens in Burkina Faso benefitted from equal protection under the law, and the Government had launched a legal aid fund in 2016, which paid for legal fees of lawyers and court fees. Botswana noted that, in order to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities were mainstreamed into the Government, it had developed specific Government ministries devoted to this issue. Following its decision to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Botswana was developing a national disability strategy in concert with the Convention. Hungary noted that the Special Rapporteur’s study on the deprivation of liberty of persons with disability dealt with issues that affected the rights of millions of persons every single day. Hungary would be interested to know whether the Special Rapporteur considered the discrepancy between her interpretation of article 14 of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and that of three other human rights mechanisms was a weakness, or if there was enough space for differing opinions to coexist.

Nigeria reiterated its unequivocal condemnation of all forms of ill-treatment of and attacks on persons with albinism. There was a need for concerted efforts by the international community in protecting persons with albinism from all forms of attack, as well as ensuring their access to justice when they suffered discrimination and ill-treatment. Malaysia noted that following its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it had made efforts to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in all aspects of government, and had set up a specific department entrusted with overseeing the wellbeing of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities continued to face serious obstacles to accessing justice, and States should sensitize judicial officials on this issue. Malta regretted that persons with disabilities continued to face discrimination and barriers that restricted them from participation in society on an equal footing with others. Malta also regretted that forced institutionalization was increasing in many parts of the world, even though this resulted in increased structural discrimination for persons with disabilities.

Cameroon agreed that countries needed to move towards more inclusive societies, which provided for the full enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities. Cameroon’s laws provided for their access to education, training, employment, healthcare, transport, communication, sports and arts. Japan said that the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 would demonstrate the contribution of sports to the Sustainable Development Goals and the elimination of discrimination against persons with disabilities. Japan strongly opposed any form of violence against persons with albinism, stressing the critical importance of access to justice. South Africa informed that its presidential working group would work to assess the discrimination faced by persons with albinism, stressing the need for multi-sectoral collaboration in order to end violence against persons with albinism. The quality of care for persons with disabilities in private establishments should be monitored.

Indonesia informed that it had enacted a law on mental health, which banned the use of any form of restraint on persons with mental disabilities. The abuse and violence against persons with disabilities were often triggered by the lack of education. Tanzania stressed that access to justice was an essential right and a key prerequisite for the protection of all other rights. Tanzania had taken all the necessary measures to ensure access to justice for persons with disabilities and persons with albinism. Malawi stated that inhumane and barbaric attacks on persons with albinism had greatly distressed everyone in the country. The authorities had thus amended the Penal Code and moved to institute speedy investigation and prosecution of such crimes.

Paraguay agreed that many of the root causes of discrimination against persons with disabilities were social, coming from stigma or prejudice. They concurred with the Special Rapporteur on the importance of community-based support systems, which removed the need for the institutionalization of persons with disabilities. Afghanistan stated that 2.7 per cent of the population were persons with disabilities, with the main cause being conflict-related injuries. Afghanistan had established the Office for the State Minister for the Martyrs and Disabled Persons Affairs to ensure the integration of persons with disabilities in society and to work to prevent their discrimination.

Office de la protection du citoyen (OPC) of Haiti noted that Haiti was a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and had made concerted efforts towards the promotion and protection of these people. Since ratifying the Convention, Haiti had adopted a series of measures to achieve tangible headway for the integration of persons with disabilities. International Bar Association called on States to review their legal framework to ensure the promotion and protection of all human rights of persons with albinism. States should provide the legal profession with human rights training addressing the rights of persons with albinism, together with persons with disabilities.

Action Canada for Population and Development noted that compound stereotypes of gender and disability and stigmatization shaped the way in which structures of power, including families, limited and oppressed women and girls with disabilities. These structures were complex, and generated uncountable impacts on the lives of women and girls with disabilities, as well as other persons. World Barua Organization (WBO) noted that it was important for States that had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to abide by it. These States should focus on the implementation of norms related to the rights of persons living with various categories of disabilities and only then could they experience the commitment towards the Convention in action.

Source: UN Human Rights Council