23 February 2018 -The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions this afternoon held the first half-day annual meeting to exchange experiences on the monitoring of article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the use of indicators, data and benchmarks, and on good practices concerning the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations with the independent monitoring mechanisms at the national level.
In her opening remarks, Beate Rudolf, Chair of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, stressed that article 19 of the Convention was the key provision with respect to the participation of organizations of persons with disabilities. The full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the society was one of the foundations of the right to live independently, she said, adding that, if excluded from monitoring, persons with disabilities remained invisible. When data and information on the situation of persons with disabilities were lacking, legislative measures would not respond to the human rights obligations of States towards persons with disabilities.
The Committee and GANRI adopted a joint declaration in which they encouraged States parties to designate independent monitoring frameworks at the national level, and recognize the status of national human rights institutions and the participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in such monitoring frameworks. A follow-up group would be set up to develop a common framework for the monitoring of article 19 of the Convention and to advocate for strengthening the data collection and disaggregation efforts in line with article 31 of the Convention and goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should develop and maintain a repository of good practices of monitoring the Convention, and that it continued strengthening the capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities. The Committee and GANRI requested that international development cooperation efforts enhanced and promoted the role of independent monitoring frameworks and national human rights institutions in monitoring the Convention.
National human rights institutions, States and the United Nations organizations and programmes discussed monitoring of article 19 of the Convention, and exchanged good practices in the engagement with persons with disabilities on national levels.
Speaking in the discussion were the national human rights institutions from the following countries: Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Morocco, Guatemala, Mongolia, Finland, Scotland, Nigeria, Philippines, Germany, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Indonesia. Also speaking were Uzbekistan, Autism Minority International, United Nations Development Programme, and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Committee will next meet on Monday, 26 February, at 3 p.m. to consider the initial report of Seychelles (CRPD/C/SYC/1).
BEATE RUDOLF, Chair of Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANRI), noted that the decision of the Committee to co-organize the conference reflected the confidence that the Committee had long had in national human rights institutions as reliable partners. Ms. Rudolf expressed hope that the conference would result in establishing a follow-up group among national human rights institutions, independent monitoring frameworks, and the Committee to develop a common monitoring framework for the implementation of the article 19 of the Convention. She also expressed hope that the meeting would spur the creation of a GANRI working group on the rights of persons with disabilities, and that the participants would adopt a joint CRPD-GANRI declaration on the outcome of the meeting. Article 19 of the Convention was the key provision with respect to the participation of organizations of persons with disabilities. As stated in the Committee’s General Comment No. 5, the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the society was one of the foundations of the right to live independently. If persons with disabilities were excluded from monitoring, they remained invisible. Furthermore, when data and information on the situation of persons with disabilities were lacking, legislative measures would not respond to the human rights obligations of States towards persons with disabilities.
In the discussion on the monitoring of article 19 of the Convention, Defensoria de los Habitantes of Costa Rica stated that the Ombudsman’s Office was responsible for the monitoring of the compliance with the Convention and stressed the importance of the political will for the setting up of independent monitoring mechanisms. The National Institute of Human Rights of Chile said that disability data provided approximate information on the status and situation of persons with disabilities, and urged States to invest more effort into compiling more comprehensive data and to draw up more inclusive policies. Autism Minority International reminded that autistic persons frequently got misdiagnosed and they needed peer-support to exercise their legal capacity. The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico stressed that persons with disabilities comprised six per cent of the population and underlined the importance of States’ collection of more comprehensive data on the situation of persons with disabilities. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said that 60 per cent of persons with disabilities in the country lived at home, but were subject to domestic violence and withdrawal of income, and faced major challenges in access to education, healthcare and employment.
New Zealand Human Rights Commission outlined some challenges in monitoring of article 19 of the Convention, notably lack of housing statistics, which was due to the lack of awareness of those who designed questionnaires. The National Commission of Human Rights of Indonesia had conducted several studies on the situation of persons with disabilities, which led to amendments of national laws, and stressed the need for a national action plan and a national budget for disability with a focus on children with disabilities. The National Human Rights Council of Morocco focused on receiving and treating complaints made by persons with disabilities and their families, and on analysing those data, and had set up a mechanism with indicators for monitoring the implementation of the Convention. Procurador de los Derechos Humanos of Guatemala had carried out its second survey on the rights of persons with disabilities, highlighting the problem of physical accessibility in the country. Uzbekistan had adopted a proper definition of a persons with disabilities, and had set up a commission which had drew up a list of recommendations to improve Government policies on persons with disabilities. The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia was consistently recommending the Government to ensure the availability of disaggregated data on disability. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported the rights of persons with disabilities directly in over 70 countries over the past ten years, and it considered that strengthening national human rights institution was critical in ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities across the Convention.
In the discussion on the good practices in the engagement with persons with disabilities on a country level, Finland’s National Human Rights Institution said that it had established Disability Rights Committee as a participating mechanism for its monitoring work, which was not the only mechanism for the participation of persons with disabilities, but was the formal one. The Scottish Human Rights Commission was travelling the country and visiting remote, rural and urban areas to enable the persons with disabilities to look at the action plan of the Scottish Government, and take part in the monitoring of its implementation. In Nigeria, the Human Rights Commission employed persons with disabilities which was one of the ways in which persons with disabilities were involved in programming and monitoring of the enforcement of their rights. The Procurador de los Derechos Humanos of Guatemala was using social media networks, especially Twitter, and highlighted that more support in this domain was needed. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines had focal commissioners on a range of human rights, including on disability rights, through which the Commission engaged with persons with disabilities, Government and non-governmental organizations. Since the entry into force of the Convention in 2009, German Institute for Human Rights actively consulted with persons with disabilities and their organizations, and to date, had held 27 such consultations.
Defensoria de los Habitantes of Costa Rica was an observer in the interinstitutional committee the Government had set up to follow up on recommendations made to Costa Rica by various treaty bodies. In Nepal, the National Human Rights Commission was organizing provincial and national conferences to identify, on the grassroots level, issues that persons with disabilities faced; it also actively engaged with human rights defenders and activists in the field of disability rights. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Office had heard the call for the increased participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, so that disability voices could be heard in all their diversity. The Human Rights Commission of Zimbabwe called the attention to the situation of people living in albinism and said that it was engaging with partners Southern Africa region to raise awareness of their plight. The National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia said that it was actively playing a role in the consultations to prepare the upcoming establishment of the national commission on disability.
Concluding Remarks and the Adoption of the Joint Declaration
BEATE RUDOLF, Chair of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, said that this meeting was an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences not only with the Committee but also between the national human rights institutions. The discussions had clearly shown that knowledge was key to the realization of the rights on the ground and that national human rights institutions needed to support States more in the implementation of their obligations. Finally, Ms. Rudolf looked forward to the adoption of the joint declaration.
A representative of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions read out the text of the joint declaration, which the Committee then adopted.
THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, welcomed the adoption of the joint declaration which would support and improve the working together between the Committee and independent monitoring frameworks.
For use of the information media; not an official record
Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr