Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Concludes Twenty-Ninth Session after Adopting Concluding Observations on the Reports of Andorra, Austria, Germany, Israel, Malawi, Mauritania, Mongolia and Paraguay
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this afternoon concluded its twenty-ninth session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Andorra, Austria, Germany, Israel, Malawi, Mauritania, Mongolia and Paraguay.
Vivian Fernández de Torrijos, Committee Rapporteur, said the Committee had, in addition to adopting concluding observations on the State party reports reviewed, considered five individual communications submitted for its consideration under the Optional Protocol to the Convention. It had found violations of the Convention in three of them and declared two inadmissible. A summary of the views and decisions of the Committee could be found in the Committee’s report on its twenty-ninth session. The views and decisions would be transmitted to the parties as soon as possible and would subsequently be made public. The Committee had also adopted a follow-up report on views.
Ms. Fernández de Torrijos said the Committee held a discussion and adopted a statement calling on States parties to deepen their de-institutionalisation policies and plans, in line with the Committee’s guidelines on de-institutionalisation, including in emergencies. The Committee had also adopted a provisional programme of work for its thirtieth session. The Committee would continue to work to improve the provision of accessible conference services and reasonable accommodation to members of the Committee and participants with disabilities at its meetings. The Committee also decided to adopt a statement on the rights of persons with disabilities to social protection. Finally, the Committee adopted the report of its twenty-ninth session.
The Committee then heard remarks from several speakers.
Pamela Molina, Disability Rights Specialist of the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said the Rapporteurship was established in 2019. The Rapporteurship’s priorities were the impact of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights on persons with disabilities. They were also working on legal capacity and on de-institutionalisation in the Caribbean. More Caribbean countries needed to sign the Inter-American Treaty on Human Rights. A first thematic report had been produced on the situation of persons with disabilities in the Americas. The report was drafted as part of a public consultation with States and civil society and covered economic and cultural rights, as well as legal capacity. Colombia and Peru had been able to overcome some of the barriers faced by persons with disabilities. Legislation for persons with disabilities was a real challenge. The report helped countries assess their legislation to put in place a framework for the protection of persons with disabilities.
Mercedes Carrillo, Secretary of the Organization of American States’ Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, said the Committee consisted of around 50 experts in total who were responsible for evaluating the national reports that States parties to the Convention submitted every four years on the implementation of the Convention. All States responded to the same indicators which were divided into 15 thematic areas, including education, health and employment, among others. Approximately nine months were given for each State to complete its report, with the possibility of an extension. The Committee then distributed its evaluation of the reports which contained conclusions on progress made, difficulties observed, and recommendations to the States. The Committee had successfully completed three report evaluation cycles. This year, the process had been modified, allowing States to submit their reports through an online platform. There were many benefits to the new online platform which significantly streamlined the process. The platform would facilitate legislative reforms and strengthen the participation of civil society organizations and in turn would have a positive impact on the quality of lives of persons with disabilities.
Juan Ignacio Perez Bello, International Disability Alliance, congratulated the members of the Committee and Secretariat for all the work carried out during the twenty-ninth session. The International Disability Alliance and its partners continued to provide support to the national organizations of persons with disabilities and were grateful for the support of the Committee. Some challenges remained, such as when colleagues from Mauritania could not make it to Geneva. The relevance of interpretation for remote participation by the United Nations Office at Geneva remained a critical element. It was hoped that solutions could be found soon to this issue to continue creating opportunities for civil society engagement with United Nations treaty bodies. The Committee’s selection of Experts would take place in June and nine seats would be at stake. The Alliance would do its best to ensure transparency of the electoral process. The Alliance was glad that progress towards general comments 9 and 10 was advancing steadily, and looked forward to further information and to contribute to the process in appropriate ways. Messages from States such as Germany invited reflection gaining a deeper understanding of the State’s ownership of Convention reforms.
Augustin Ferreyra, representing the judiciary from Buenos Aires, Argentina, said there had been an inclusion process within the judiciary of Buenos Aires to allow for easier access to persons with disabilities. The Committee’s concerns regarding the low participation of persons with disabilities were noted, as were the Committee’s recommendations relating to the limited accessibility of courts. Work was being carried out with the United Nations Development Programme to promote the legal capacity of persons with disabilities in Argentina. Persons with disabilities were convened to meetings to identify barriers preventing their access. Technical amendments were being implemented to ensure digital portals of the judiciary of Buenos Aires could become fully accessible. Proceedings had been reviewed to determine legal capacity. Persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities needed to have their legal capacity in the civil courts. A law had been adopted which could restrain legal capacity, particularly for persons with long-standing mental disabilities. The judiciary of Buenos Aires was realising what changes it needed to make to allow the legal capacities of persons with disabilities. More than 60 per cent of those institutionalised had not signed informed consent. The lack of capacity was a problem when it came to de-institutionalisation and this was heightened when the old medical model was used. The judiciary in Buenos Aires was trying to make changes to make the judiciary more accessible. Persons with disabilities needed to always play a key role in decisions affecting them.
In closing remarks, Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Committee Chairperson, providing an update of the Committee’s activities, said the Committee had held an interaction with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and had briefed him on the efforts of the Committee and the challenges it faced. An informal meeting with States parties was held on development and challenges relating to work. An interactive panel on de-institutionalisation had been held to mark the one-year anniversary of the adoption of the guidelines on de-institutionalisation. The Committee had also adopted a public statement on the social protection of persons with disabilities to compliment work on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies. Committee members had engaged in some side events discussing issues relating to persons with disabilities. The Committee would continue to enjoy collaboration with international disability organizations and other United Nations entities. Ms. Oforiwa Fefoame thanked all Committee members, members of the Secretariat and civil society, who had participated in the twenty-ninth session.
The Committee’s concluding observations for the reports reviewed this session will be transmitted to the relevant States and will be made available on the Committee’s webpage. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s twenty-ninth session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The thirtieth session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is scheduled to be held in Geneva from 4 to 22 March 2024, during which it is scheduled to review the reports of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Sweden and Zambia.
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