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Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities considers initial report of Iran

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

23 March 2017

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Iran on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Introducing the report of Iran, Mohsen Naziri Asl, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva, informed that Ms. Zahra Nemati, who had won the gold medal in two consecutive world Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016 and in London in 2017, was a member of the delegation. According to Islamic laws and sharia, persons with disabilities should be treated with high respect and esteem. Based on those teachings, Iran had made utmost efforts to improve accessibility, availability, reasonable accommodation, and support for persons with disabilities.  Steps in that  direction included the accession of Iran to the Convention and the adoption of the comprehensive Law for Persons with Disabilities in 2004, with which the ratification was made effective.  Following that, the Government had embarked on serious measures to implement the Convention.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts asked a series of questions regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, including on their inclusion in the society; accessibility; full and inclusive education; institutionalisation; legal proceedings; cases of sexual and other abuse especially towards women and children with disabilities; monitoring and implementation of social inclusion; voting rights; the right to work; discrimination issues; the issue of raising awareness regarding land-mines, among other.  Experts were concerned about the official definition of disability, which indicated that they system was based on the medical model of disability, thus ignoring social barriers that impaired the social inclusion of persons with disabilities. They emphasized that the Convention treated persons with disabilities as rights-holders and not as welfare recipients.  Experts were also concerned about the view of homosexuality as a psychosocial disability, and the alleged use of medication, hormone therapy, electric shocks and conversion therapy on homosexuals.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Asl thanked the Country Rapporteur, the Committee and his own delegation for their active participation. Iran was making great efforts to increase the rights of persons with disabilities and was committed to ensuring implementation of the Convention.  

Ms. Theresia Degener, Committee Chairperson, closing the meeting, thanked the delegation and the Rapporteur for the fruitful discussion.

The delegation of Iran included representatives of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the Ministry of Education, the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans, the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Training, the Welfare Organization, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Cooperatives, the National High Council on Human Rights, the Ministry of the Interior, sports representatives, the Bavar Foundation, and the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today, March 22, to begin its consideration of the initial report of Cyprus (CRPD/C/CYP/1).

Report

The initial report of Iran can be read here: CRPD/C/IRN/1

Presentation of the Report

MOHSEN NAZIRI ASL, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva,  informed that Ms. Zahra Nemati, who had won the gold medal in two consecutive world Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016 and in London in 2017, was a member of the delegation.  According to Islamic laws and sharia, persons with disabilities should be treated with high respect and esteem.  Based on those teachings, Iran had made utmost efforts to improve accessibility, availability, reasonable accommodation, and support for persons with disabilities.  Steps in that direction included accession of Iran to the Convention and the adoption of the comprehensive Law for Persons with Disabilities in 2004, with which the ratification had been made effective.  The Government had embarked on serious measures to implement the Convention.  The first step in that regard was designating the State Welfare Organization and the Foundation of Martyr and Veterans Affairs as focal points of the Convention.  Another achievement was the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities since 2013, in any new public and general law or decision.  That included the expansion of standards of accessibility in transportation systems and public buildings; the successful increase of the number of inclusive schools for children with disabilities; the adoption of a new Bill for a Comprehensive Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a few months earlier; the adoption of the Fifth and Sixth National Development Plans that improved the rights of persons with disabilities; the reduction of the daily hours of work for women with disabilities, and early retirement; strategic planning for empowering household women, especially those with disabled children or husbands; economic empowerment of prisoners’ families, among which there were many disabled persons; education plans; and plans to support vulnerable women as well as the quality of life for elderly women in provinces.  Challenges towards the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities included unilateral coercive measures which restricted the country’s resources, budgets and technology.  International cooperation, especially in the case of easy technology transfer, was crucial.  Each day, 80 children with disabilities were born in Iran, which meant 30,000 children per year.  To prevent that, genetic examinations were now obligatory. Iran had made every effort necessary and would continue to do so, in the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. 

HOSSEIN NAHVINEJAD, Deputy for Rehabilitation Affairs, Welfare Organisation of Iran, said that there were thousands of governmental and non-governmental clinics that rendered a multitude of services to persons with disabilities. Additionally, there were 18,000 persons with disabilities that used in-house services, and plans were ongoing to enhance those services.  Community-based rehabilitation was also provided in villages and remote places, in conjunction with families and non-governmental organisations. All rural areas had been reached, and over 325,000 persons with disabilities had been offered aid.  Additionally, over 360,000 persons with disabilities were being paid monthly allowances.  Empowerment and inclusion were also priorities.

MAHDI IZADI GHAHFAROKHI, Deputy for Social Affairs, Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans of Iran, said that about 560,000 persons with disabilities and over two million dependent family members were reached by the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans, which provided services as well as health and medical insurance.  The victims included 64,000 victims of chemical attacks due to the attacks from Iraq.  The Government had helped 11,000 persons with disabilities to go to work.  Recreational and tourism activities were organized for 60,000 persons. Over 80 psychiatric and counselling centres were available, as well as 60 comprehensive sports and rehabilitation complexes.

Questions by Experts

MONTHIAN BUNTAN, Member of the Committee and Country Rapporteur for Iran, wished the delegation a Happy Nowruz and congratulated the country for having ratified the Convention.  Iran had one of the best primary healthcare systems in the region, especially in the rural areas, and had established mental health units around the country. That, pointed out Mr. Buntan, could serve as a very good basis for further development.  Noting that the Government had provided persons with disabilities with many welfare programmes and services, he reminded the delegation that the Convention treated persons with disabilities as rights-holders and not as welfare recipients.    While war veterans with disabilities in Iran received extra support services, those needed to be extended to all persons with disabilities.  

The State party still kept its general reservation to the Convention. The State party also had not indicated whether and when it would ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention. Third, it was not clear whether any provision in the Convention was in conflict with the Islamic principles, and therefore could not be implemented.  Fourth, it was unclear whether and how the two organisations, namely the Welfare Organization and the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, would undertake the role of monitoring.  Fifth, the State party still restricted legal capacity and liberty of persons with disabilities on the basis of impairment, and there was no information on how persons with disabilities could make their own choices about their place of residence, where and with whom to live, and, in general, how persons with disabilities exercised control over their own lives. Sixth, there was lack of information about measures to combat multiple discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities, nor the situation of persons with disabilities belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.  

The Committee was disappointed that there was so little or almost no information from civil society organisations, particularly organisations of persons with disabilities within Iran.  Iran was one of a few countries without any submission of a comprehensive parallel report form independent organisations.  Throughout the process of preparing the dialogue, the Committee had not been fortunate to welcome inputs and briefings from persons with disabilities through their representative organisations.  In the future, that would help make the dialogue truly open, inclusive, democratic and participatory. The Expert commended the State party for including persons with disabilities in the delegation, namely Zahra Nemati, gold medalist in Rio Paralympic Games in 2016, and Soheil Moeini, top national disabled figure and member of the Bavar Foundation. 

Another Expert was concerned that the official definition of disability was based on the medical model and completely ignored social barriers that impaired social inclusion of persons with disabilities. Did the State party have an intention to harmonize the definition of disability in Iran with the provisions of the Convention?  Additionally, what did the terms “social damage” mean?

How did Iran take into account all aspects of disabilities? What was the status and situation of children with psychosocial disabilities, and what kind of support were they and their families provided. What kind of pre-schools were available? 

Another Expert was concerned about the tradition of marrying within the same family which was problematic as it led to children with disabilities.  Was anything being done to sensitize couples and inform them that those relationships could result in children with disabilities? 

An Expert stated that he was pleased that explicit prohibition of disability-based discrimination was in the law. How did it work in practice? Were there court cases where persons with disabilities or family members had claimed disability-based discrimination and what were the outcomes? 

What awareness raising measures and campaigns were in place, asked the Expert. 

Regarding accessibility, were there sanctions if accessibility standards were not applied? Were accessibility and universal design part of mandatory design for architects in Iran? What facilities were in place at the airport, public transportation, hotels, and government buildings for wheelchair users?

Another Expert asked whether there was a law that stipulated that the denial of reasonable accommodation was a form of discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Had disability-based discrimination been criminalised? 

Question was asked on how the State party dealt with the question of disability during awareness-raising campaigns, especially when it had a medical definition of disability.

Another Expert asked whether there was intent to redefine the concept of disability in line with the Convention.

What measures were adopted to equalise the decision-making of women and girls with disabilities, and what measures were in place to protect them from multiple forms of discrimination? An Expert wanted to know about concrete measures to mainstream children in the society so as to allow them to participate in public and social life on an equal footing.

Did the State party evaluate the impact of awareness-raising programmes on attitudes towards persons with disabilities by citizens as well as by the media? Another Expert inquired whether there were trainers with disabilities in the awareness-raising programmes.

Were there steps taken to move from a medical approach to a social approach to disability? 

The refusal to create conditions for reasonable accommodation was discriminatory, noted an Expert.  To what extent was all legislation harmonized on that matter?  Did the State party recognize that reasonable accommodation could not be achieved without persons with disabilities? 

How far was the draft bill on violence against women, the Expert inquired. How many women and girls had complained about multiple discrimination? What remedies were available to them? 

Did civil society organisation of persons with disabilities exist, and, if so, why did they not feature in the presentation of the report?  

An Expert had never heard of the concept of “prevention of disability” and asked for a clarification.

Another Expert said it was unclear whether there was a linkage between mental illness or sexual orientation. It had been stated that persons who were transsexual or in need to express a different sexual orientation could be deemed as having a psychosocial disability. If so, they were to be fixed or undergo an operation so that they would be what they were believed to be. How was the image of persons who were believed to have psychosocial or mental disabilities, or persons with a different sexual orientation, covered in the Iranian law? How did the Government tackle that confusion?

It had reported that 20 percent of the metro stations in Tehran were equipped with accessibility for persons with disabilities. However, many found it risky to go on platforms.  What measures had been put in place so as to increase independence for persons with disabilities who moved about within the city?

Another Expert pointed out that what was important was not just physical access, but also information access for sensory for disabled persons with hearing or visual impairment. Was there programmes for language interpreters? What was the status of sign language interpreters in Iran?

Another Expert, referring to the pre-medical examination which was now obligatory in order to prevent birth of persons with disabilities, reminded that the Convention enshrined the right of all disabled persons to found a family.  She also reminded the delegation that prevention of an impairment was not an obligation under the Convention. 

Replies by the Delegation

Regarding the reservation to the Convention, the delegation explained that, during the evaluation process, Iran had found that there were no contradictions between sharia law and the Convention. The Convention itself, however, did not hinder observations, and therefore, that reservation would remain. 

There were two categories of actors working on awareness-raising and training: non-governmental organisations and public institutions. Based on the comprehensive law of 2004, the National Radio and Television were obliged to allocate at least two hours per week to introduce issues related to persons with disabilities. 1,140 awareness raising broadcasting hours had been broadcast. The main defender of rights of persons with disabilities, on average, held a national workshop every year, including training of the provisions of the Convention. Academic institutions, universities, and other institutions promoted citizenship rights; one of those was the Citizenships Rights Training Centre. A short film and documentary festival had been held for the second time this year.  Non-governmental organisations had for the third year organised a series of workshops on the Convention. Public institution officials were being trained, including personnel of the public bus transportation system in Teheran, and 400 tutors who worked for municipal councils. In 2013, 50,000 copies of books on disabilities had been distributed in schools. Of course, campaigns were not sufficient. Raising awareness was a process and not a project. 

Monitoring and supervision of the implementation of the Convention was conducted by non-governmental organisations, which had created an independent secretariat for that purpose.

The delegation stated that the Committee had misunderstood the definition of disabilities in Iran, which had been adopted from the World Health Organisation. The Medical Commission title did not mean that disability was related to a medical pathology. 

One of the main achievements of Iran was preventing disabilities. In the past ten years, screening of children was being undertaken; 15,000 cases of hearing problems had been screened; and 90 percent of children under six were screened for visual problems. Genetic screening would also become mandatory the following year, in particular for families that had a person with a disability.  Screening was also done for autism, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses. 

Awareness–raising was indeed being conducted to inform citizens that marrying within the family could lead to children with disabilities, informed a delegate.  

Regarding standardisation and universal design, it was said that developments could not happen overnight. An ad-hoc commission had been set up in order to monitor construction of the buildings.  Training was provided for engineers and architects. The main problem was not lack of legislation, but rather violation of laws.  Municipalities were not allowed to issue the certificate for construction if those did not include accessibility for disability. Every year, nation-wide accessibility conferences were being held. 

Regarding transsexual persons, the delegation informed that there was a state institution that provided services for those persons. 

A social emergency hotline 123 had been launched to prevent harassment of persons and children with disabilities, in particular women and girls.  The state institution was entitled to file a complaint if such harassment was detected. The State Welfare Organisation provided services for pre-school children. 

While some benefits were offered to veterans who were victims of chemical weapons, terrorism or armed conflict, there was no distinction between persons with disabilities in the civilian and military sector. 

Discrimination was not allowed and complaints mechanisms were available.  If civil servants committed any discrimination, the Court of Administration was competent. The General Inspectorate monitored discrimination and dealt with complaints on public institutions. The Parliament also dealt with discrimination. The Administrative Court of Justice had the right to annul any discriminatory laws or guidelines. Efforts and plans were under way to provide the judiciary with reasonable accommodation and training.

There had been a misunderstanding regarding “unjust discrimination.” What was meant was ”positive discrimination”.

Regarding education, the delegation said that there was a special curriculum, under the title of work and technology, under which social responsibilities were studied. Life skills and empowerment were also taught to both children and parents.  In 2016, in 1,523 special schools, more than 7,000 meetings had been held, where close to 250,000 youth had been trained. Technical and vocational training was in place for girls with disabilities, as well as workshops for cooking, administrative skills, family management, wood, gardening, and carpet weaving. There were nine modules in the university for teacher training.  Sign language was taught to 3,000 clerics.  Several thousand children with severe disabilities were studying at primary and secondary education levels. 

Regarding discrimination against women, especially multiple and intersectional discrimination, Article 21 of the Constitution obliged the Government to observe women’s rights.  Development plans for girls and women with disabilities, were in place, including the Sixth National Development Plan aimed at improving the share of women in welfare, empowering women, allowing them to hold senior managerial posts, to improve social and cultural assets of women.  The Vice President for Women and Family Affairs and women advisors were involved in the planning efforts to improve the status of women in general.  In 2016, the Government had adopted guidelines to reduce working hours for women with disabilities to 36 hours per week with the same salary and benefits as others. Employed women were entitled to use early retirement benefits, and one of their family members was exempted from serving in the military. There was a special hotline for women, namely 129. An act criminalising discrimination against women and other vulnerable categories was currently in the Parliament. 

Questions by Experts 

An Expert inquired how the hotlines were made accessible for deaf persons and for persons with intellectual disabilities. Was sign language interpretation available in judicial procedures?

What were possibilities for persons with disabilities in Iran to hire a professional so that family members could go about their other duties? 

An Expert said that persons under guardianship were restricted in terms of their access to justice and their right to thought. What measures were in place to prevent that?

An Expert inquired about the condition of living of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. Where did they live, were they institutionalised, and was there a specific approach to women? 

Another Expert asked whether persons with disabilities were not allowed to choose persons who represented them in legal procedures?  

Question was raised if more information could be provided on how Iran was removing guardianship laws and putting in place supported decision-making.  Did persons with disabilities have the right to choose where they lived? 

An Expert asked the delegation to provide information on all assistive technologies. Could data be provided on those services, disaggregated by type of disability? 

What was the situation of children with disabilities who had become orphans? What kinds of measures were in place to protect them and prevent them from being institutionalised? 

Another Expert asked whether information was provided in braille and sign language in cases of emergency?  Did the State party have an emergency number that could be accessed in particular by those categories of people?  What mechanisms were in place to provide assistive devices for persons with impaired mobility? 

An Expert asked what plans ensured the independent (non-institutionalised) living of persons with disabilities.

Another Expert, referring to that the lack of information on the abuse of persons with disabilities, especially women and children, asked how persons with disabilities, including who were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment, accessed the justice system.

An Expert was concerned that the percentage of persons with disabilities on the death row could be much higher, due to the fact that they were not considered fit to stand trial. He asked the delegation to comment on that.  Additionally, the delegation was asked to confirm whether or not it was true that persons who had perpetrated murder of persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities allegedly stood lesser sentences than those who committed murder of persons without disabilities.  Once persons had been amputated or blinded, were they considered persons with disabilities? In other words, what would be the consequences of being made disabled due to a punishment? 

The delegation was asked to explain measures to investigate accountability in public institutions for abuse, torture and violence against persons with disabilities, especially against children and persons with psychosocial disabilities. 

Replies by the Delegation

Training on braille for children and students with visual disabilities was a top priority for the Ministry of Education and was ongoing. Sign language training for interpreters was also ongoing, as was audio-alphabet training.  Audio CDs were available for students, and training courses were held for teachers in kindergarten, primary and pre-school so as to familiarise them with the audio-alphabet.

The delegation informed that 35 percent of the buildings in the judiciary were accessible. Plans were to maximize the accessibility in those buildings within ten years.  Services were available, including the electronic “customer management system,” by which persons with disabilities could register their complaints to courts electronically, and all the documents were available on an electronic file.  Persons with disabilities were notified electronically. All hearings had to have an interpreter present, otherwise that would be a violation of the law and the judge would be tried in court.

Regarding persons with psychosocial disabilities, the Penal Code provided that if such a person did not have mental capability to distinguish the crime they committed, they were acquitted of the crime and the case was closed.  

If a person committed a crime against a person with psychosocial disabilities or any other disability, they would be punished, in proportionality with the level or nature of the crime, the delegation confirmed. 

Regarding privacy of persons with disabilities, according to the Penal Code, all persons had the right to privacy. Persons who disclosed information on persons with disability were liable to serve a minimum of two years in prison, or pay a financial fine.

Persons with disabilities who did not have a legal guardian were assigned one, and had the right to choose where they lived. Persons with psychosocial disabilities were first treated, and then gradually provided with the opportunity to live a semi-independent life and be included in the society.

There were plans to facilitate accessibility in the cities, with a view to protecting the life of persons with disabilities.  A person with disabilities could text the Ministry to inform them that a building was not accessible. Teheran was a role model for accessibility to persons with disabilities.

An additional 170 sign language interpreters had been trained, and the plan was to train 150 sign language interpreters on an annual basis.  Persons with hearing disabilities could call a special number to have sign language interpreters, and would be provided that service by the Government.  A number of memoranda of understanding had been signed with various groups and organisations to train caretakers and interpreters for persons with disabilities.  

Persons who were under guardianship in institutions were generally persons whose disability did not allow them to lead independent lives or whose families were unable to care for them.  A “small houses plan” was in the pipeline for persons with mild disabilities, for which a memorandum of understanding had been signed with Germany. 

Assistive devices were available, and technology and science from other countries were being used to that effect.  Over 100 surgeries were being conducted annually to help persons with hearing aid devices.  Persons with visual disabilities were in need of special assistive devices in order to continue with their education. They were being provided with the necessary equipment, however in some cases those had to be imported from the outside.  A website was available for downloading applications for persons with disabilities, in particular for persons with hearing disabilities.  A variety of facilities and assistive devices were provided for a multitude of categories of disabilities.

The Social Emergency Department was responsible for identifying any form of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and violence in educational institutions, including psychological and physical harassment against persons with disabilities. Ninety percent of the victims were women and girls. To that effect, safe houses were available with services such as psychologists, counsellors and training.  When required, cooperation with the police and justice was established in order to protect the harassed person. 

Regarding landmines and awareness-raising thereof, the delegation emphasize that the issue was of highest priority and remained one of the most challenging issues.  Iran worked globally in that field, and had thus far demined 49 million hectares in the world. Iran had the second highest number of landmines in the world, due to the war with Iraq.  The number of persons killed or injured by landmines had significantly decreased over the years; in 2015, 15 had been killed and 14 wounded.  Workshops were held for people living in the areas where there were still landmines.  It was mandatory that the international community provide assistance and cooperation in that regard.

Questions by Experts

An Expert asked how many hours of sign language were available on television. 

Could more updated information be provided on the percentage of websites accessible to persons with visual and hearing disabilities?

How many persons had submitted complaints to the Social Emergency Department and to the Centre for Social Emergencies Exploitation and Abuse, asked an Expert.  

Referring to the exceptional Iranian cinematography, another Expert asked whether any of the magnificent Iranian movies were available in audio-description, so that blind persons could see them. 

Had any efforts been made, in line with Article 32 of the Covenant, to learn from other countries which also had historic land-sites, and which had managed to make them accessible to persons with disabilities?  

Another Expert asked the delegation to explain how effective the three-percent quota for employment of persons with disabilities had been. 

An Expert, referring to the Sustainable Development Goals theme “no one is left behind”, informed that ending poverty was linked to Articles 10, 12 and 28 of the Covenant. Had the State party mainstreamed the rights of persons with disabilities in the national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals? What pragmatic measures had been undertaken to ensure that persons with disabilities got out of poverty? 

Were Paralympic athletes treated equally as Olympic athletes, when State honours and bonuses were in question?

Another Expert asked what was being done to ensure that persons could participate in elections and public life on an equal footing as others.  What was being done for those living in rural areas and who had no access to voting booths?  Did persons with disabilities participate in state programmes related to them? Were they represented in the Parliament in the country? 

What were the specific State measures to ensure access to persons with disabilities to sports facilities, asked an Expert. 

Another Expert commended the Iranian Government on its impressive efforts to develop high quality text-to-speech engine.  It was a very important technology for the blind, who, without it, could not read textbooks, access phones, and so forth.  Mainstream developers had developed it for major languages, and there was an open source project that tried to develop it for more languages.  

An Expert recommended that the State review its terminology in line with the Convention, in reference to “special students”.  Children with disabilities were normal students, like all other students, he stated.  The main problem was the Government’s vision of inclusiveness. Could the delegation inform how inclusive education was being implemented in line with General Comment No. 4?

Another Expert asked if people with disabilities were able to choose where they lived and whom they lived with.

What percentage of children with disabilities attended regular schools and received regular education in line with Article 24 of the Convention? 

An Expert, referring to the cooperation with other Islamic countries, asked which organisation coordinated the work related to the implementation of the Convention.

An Expert commended the State party for all its efforts in braille, but reminded that new technology for the blind was important, including making websites and computers more accessible for the blind.  Accessibility for the deaf was equally important. How many hours of interpretation for the deaf were available on television?  

Accessibility of health institutions for persons with disabilities was raised in another question. 

Another Expert stated that the welfare system of the State referred to persons who were eligible and ineligible. Was there data on persons with disabilities who were not insured, and what measures were in place to support them?  Over 60 percent of disabled workers were unemployed according to a report from non-governmental organisations. What was the nature of sustainable job creation by the State?  What was the standard of living of those persons with disabilities? It seemed that those might be suffering from chronic poverty. What was being done to address their problem? 

Was denial of reasonable accommodation in the workplace accompanied by sanctions, and, if so, who monitored those sanctions? Another Expert asked whether the Government of Iran had made any steps to move towards explicitly prohibiting disability-based discrimination, and especially defining the denial of reasonable accommodation as disability-based discrimination.

What happened with cases of violations against refugees with disabilities? 

Regarding education, there seemed to be a confusion between inclusive policy and special schools. What measures were in place to move towards inclusive education?

Question was asked about measures undertaken to ensure availability for sexual and reproductive health facilities for persons with disabilities in an accessible format, including braille, sign language, large format, easy-to-read language, and plain language. 

What was the monthly allowance for persons with disabilities, and what was the eligibility criteria to receive it?  What was its proportion to the monthly minimum wage?

Allegedly, attempts to revise the electoral system had been defeated in the Parliament in 2015, leaving some persons with disabilities without the possibility to run for political positions.  How did the State party intend to repeal or remove barriers preventing persons with disabilities from exercising their political participation? How would changes be made so that persons under guardianship could exercise their political rights?

Referring to the greatness of Persian literature, the Expert asked what plans were in place to ratify and implement the Marrakech Treaty so that materials would be accessible to those who were blind and so that the Iranian literature could be available to the rest of the world.

Had the State party come up with a clear definition for the tasks for the monitoring body, in accordance with the Paris Principles? 

Question was also posed on the decriminalisation of homosexuality. What health services did Iran offer to members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex community? There had been situations where gay people were subject to medication hormone conversion therapy and electric shocks.  Did the State acknowledge such conversion therapies taking place? High-level officials had stated that homosexuality was an illness, and that homosexuals were sick people that had to be under psychiatric care. 

Replies by the Delegation

Iran had signed the Marrakesh Treaty and it had entered into force in 2016, informed the delegation.

The right to privacy was highly respected in Iran as a cultural value, and that was also seen in practice.  Additionally, the Penal Code did not allow for the violation of that right. 

Regarding measures to eradicate disability-based discrimination in employment, it was explained that all governmental and non-governmental organisations had to employ between two and five percent of persons with disabilities. Any organisation which violated that quota would be investigated and would pay a penalty to the State Welfare Organisation. This penalty would be used to employ persons with disabilities. Ten percent of public employees had to be persons with disabilities. The Law on Rights of Persons with Disabilities allocated a three-percent quota for the employment of persons with disabilities in public institutions. Sixty percent of staff such as telephone operators had to be persons with disabilities.  The Labour Law stipulated that there had to be an Office for Planning for the Employment of Persons with Disabilities and the Ministry of Labour was charged with providing the necessary services for persons with disabilities. Technical and vocational education had to be provided to those persons so as to enable their employment in governmental and non-governmental organisations.  The figure of 60 percent unemployment rate of persons with disabilities was not true.  If they were unemployed, persons with disabilities received a monthly unemployment benefit from the Government. 

Four networks of non-governmental organisations monitored the implementation of the Convention and provided the Shadow Report to the Committee. On the governmental level, the monitoring body was the Council, on which five members of the National Network of Iranian Disabled Persons sat, and which provided a report to the Government about the implementation of the Convention.  The Parliament also monitored legislation. There was, however, a need to strengthen the monitoring system. 

Regarding awareness-raising and information, the delegation said that the sign language interpreters were available in the media, including on prime time TV programmes.  A channel that promoted a healthy life in mental and physical aspects broadcast specific programmes with persons with disabilities. In 2015, a total of 1,154 hours of broadcast had been published by the Iranian television and radio, and plans were to increase those hours. 

Negotiations with Scandinavian countries, as well as Greece and Turkey, had taken place in order to improve accessibility to cinema, as well as to historical and cultural monuments.  The historic sites of Isfahan and Shiraz were already accessible.

Regarding violence to vulnerable groups, it was explained that departments and safe-houses had been set up in populous cities, and women girls and children with disabilities were taken care of there.  There were two levels of shelters and rehabilitation centres for victims of violence, namely level 1 in cities and level 2 in rural areas. 

The Sustainable Development Programme document was being reviewed, and its goals  related to persons with disabilities would definitely be incorporated in the future plans. In that regard, housing had already been provided for families which had at least two persons with disabilities. At the moment, six residential units were being constructed, and would be gradually given to persons with disabilities. Priority was being given to persons with severe disabilities. 

The daily and nightly in-home care of persons with disabilities was available.  Social aid workers, counsellors and psychologists were provided, as were volunteers. 

Regarding employment, the delegation said that persons with disabilities had to be qualified with the relevant education, which was the reason why the three-percent quota had not been achieved.  Low interest loans were offered to persons with disabilities. A national fund allocated funds to government organisations that employed persons with disabilities.  In 2016, 25,000 sustainable job opportunities had been generated by the State Welfare Organisation, and another 10,000 by the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans.

Coercive treatment and electric shocks were not being used by the authorities against any persons including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.

Political participation by persons with disabilities was not prohibited. In Teheran City Council, which covered 12 million persons, from among 30 members there were four persons with disabilities, among whom two with a visual impairment. Additionally, more than 25 percent of Iranian Members of Parliament were persons with disabilities, and Iran could be a role model for other countries in that respect.  The restriction for blind persons in the Parliament would be lifted this year.  Between 10 and 15 percent of the ballot boxes in Iran were mobile, which meant that the ballot boxes were taken to persons with disabilities and others who could not access electoral booths. 

There was no distinction between Paralympics and Olympics sportspersons.

Regarding questions of inclusiveness in education, it was said that sign-language interpreters were available in regular schools in order to allow for students with disabilities to participate in regular classes. There were over 70,000 students with disabilities currently studying in special schools, and over 55,000 students studying in regular schools. In total, 130,000 students with disabilities were currently registered.  

Concluding Remarks

MOHSEN NAZIRI ASL, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Country Rapporteur, the Committee and his own delegation for their active participation. There were serious efforts in Iran to increase the rights of persons with disabilities. It was very important to note that Iran’s accession to the Convention had coincided with unjust sanctions.  With regard to best practices, disabled persons had to be considered, and Iran was learning from others.  Iran would not freeze its efforts; it was a continuous effort and process to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. There was a need for a holistic approach to that issue, which required international cooperation.  The Bill of the Comprehensive Law to Support for Persons with Disabilities had just been approved by the Parliament and was now going the Council for consideration. 

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, closing the meeting, thanked the delegation and the Rapporteur for the fruitful discussion.
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For use of the information media; not an official record

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