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UN rights expert to assess the situation of persons with disabilities in Zambia

GENEVA / LUSAKA (13 April 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Catalina Devandas-Aguilar will carry out her first visit to Zambia from 18 to 28 April 2016. She will be examining the situation of persons with disabilities – including older persons, women and children with disabilities – as well as legislation, policies and programmes in place for the enjoyment of their rights.

“During my ten-day visit, I will focus on the level of enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities in Zambia, in areas such as social protection, education, mental health, access to justice, and deprivation of liberty,” the human rights expert said.

“Given the current pre-electoral context in Zambia, I am also keen to assess how the right of persons with disabilities to participate in political and public life is being addressed in the electoral process, ahead of the general elections of August,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar noted.

The Special Rapporteur reports to the UN Human Rights Council and advises on the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities word-wide, including by supporting Governments to identify good practices, opportunities, challenges and protection gaps in this area. Her work is guided by the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities* and other international human rights standards.

The expert, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government of Zambia, will meet with government representatives at national and local levels, as well as with organizations of persons with disabilities, other civil society actors, UN officials and international donors. She will visit the cities of Lusaka and Ndola.

“I look forward to engaging with authorities, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations and other actors to better understand how the rights of persons with disabilities are implemented in Zambia, the practical approaches that have been prioritised, and the policies, programmes and decisions that have either helped or hampered the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar explained.

On 28 April 2016 at 11h30 a.m., Ms. Devandas Aguilar will hold a press conference at the Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel in Lusaka to share with the media her preliminary observations on the visit. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council, including her findings and recommendations, in March 2017.

(*) Check the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities:   http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/ConventionRightsPersonsWithDisabilities.aspx

Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar (Costa Rica) was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities in June 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Devandas Aguilar has worked extensively on disability issues at the national, regional and international level with the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, the UN unit responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Bank. Her work has focused on the rights of women with disabilities and the rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disability/SRDisabilities/Pages/SRDisabilitiesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For press inquiries and additional information, please contact:

In Lusaka (during the visit):
Rekha Shrestha, Communications Specialist, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (+260 211 250 800/ext. 272 or +260 975 280 499, rekha.shrestha@one.un.org)
Cristina Michels, OHCHR (+260 978 592 522) / cmichels@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Cristina Michels, (+41 22 928 9866 / cmichels@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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