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

GENEVA (18 August 2016) - The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Bolivia on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 
Presenting the report, Virginia Velasco Condori, Minister of Justice of Bolivia, said that historically, persons with disabilities had been invisible and had been seen as sick and in need of assistance.  This attitude changed with the enactment of the new Constitution in 2009 which enlarged and strengthened the recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of disability.  This paradigm shift gave rise to the ratification of the Convention and its Optional Protocol in 2009, and the enactment of the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities.  The General Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 223 of 2011 had been designed to guarantee the full enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities and give them preferential treatment through a comprehensive system for the protection and promotion of their rights on an equal footing with other members of the society. 
 
In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts welcomed the adoption of the Constitution which recognized all forms of diversity in Bolivia and set an example for the continent, but remarked that it defined persons with disabilities as a group that needed protection which perpetuated the model of disabilities that transcended into a lack of programmes to promote their rights.  The medical approach to disability was still in place, as were laws limiting legal capacity of persons with disabilities and depriving them of decision-making power with regard to their sexual and reproductive rights.  Bolivia was very active in adopting legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities but there was a need to set priorities and move towards their implementation so that those rights could be realized. 
 
Poverty disproportionately affected persons with disabilities; it made them invisible and vulnerable to violence, exclusion and abuse, so Experts expressed concern about the many barriers in rolling out social protection programmes which would ensure that persons with disabilities lived their lives with dignity and independence.  They also expressed concern about violence against persons with disabilities participating in the Caravana La Paz protests which aimed to raise awareness about poverty and inquired about the best way to meet the demands and needs of persons with disabilities and to transition them to life in dignity.  The situation of women and children with disabilities was of utmost concern: women with disabilities were poor, usually single parents, with children from several fathers and some born out of rape; children with disabilities were not systematically registered at birth, which hampered access to public services on an equal footing with other children; they were also abandoned, exploited and abused. 
 
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Velasco Condori thanked the Committee for the opportunity to discuss progress achieved for persons with disabilities in Bolivia and invited the Experts to look at the context in which the Caravan developed: the protests were not only about persons with disabilities claiming their rights but there were also political considerations and tensions.
 
Silvia Judith Quan-Chang, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bolivia, recognized the challenges that Bolivia needed to overcome and the commitment to do so.  The Rapporteur also thanked representative organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society organizations and stressed the need for their continued work without intimidation.
 
The delegation of Bolivia included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Directorate for Persons with Disabilities, and the Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The concluding observations on the report of Bolivia will be made public on Friday, 2 September 2016 and will be available here.
 
The Committee’s public meetings in English and Spanish, with closed captioning and International Sign Language, are webcast at http://webtv.un.org/
 
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today, 18 August, to begin its consideration of the initial report of the United Arab Emirates (CRPD/C/ARE/1).
 
Report

The initial report of Bolivia can be read here: CRPD/C/BOL/1.
 
Presentation of the Report
 
VIRGINIA VELASCO CONDORI, Minister of Justice of Bolivia, said that Bolivia had undertaken a number of initiatives to defend the rights of persons with disabilities, and that the Living Well paradigm had taken on board their needs.  Historically, persons with disabilities had not received attention by prior governments and had been invisible to public policies; they had been regarded as sick and assisted members of the society.  This attitude had changed in 2006 with the enactment of the new Constitution which had enlarged and strengthened the constitutional recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of disability. 
 
People with disabilities now enjoyed the same recognition and responsibilities as other members of the society and they were seen as masters and drivers of their destiny.  The Living Well paradigm shift had had a profound impact on persons with disabilities, who had started to claim their rights; this had given rise to the 2009 Law which had ratified the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and the enactment of the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities.  The general Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 223 of 2011 had been designed to guarantee the full enjoyment of rights for persons with disabilities and gave them preferential treatment through a comprehensive system for the protection and promotion of their rights on an equal footing with other members of the society. 
 
Programmes and projects to improve the living standards of persons with disabilities in a number of areas had been adopted, including in health, education, housing, and other areas of life.  The strategic line had been designed for all media to address all forms of derogatory comments made about persons with disabilities and the appropriate terms used to describe persons with disabilities.  Persons with disabilities were given preferential treatment on public transport, while 133 housing units had been provided to persons with disabilities.  The personnel of the justice sector had been trained in appropriate treatment of persons with disabilities, judicial buildings had been made accessible, and free legal aid was available to persons with disabilities.  Persons with disabilities deprived of liberty received legal aid and were incorporated in the law on pardons.  The Institute for the Blind had been set up to register and provide identity cards to the blind, to support access to education though the provision of Braille and access to information through specialized Internet centres. 
 
The State had an obligation to implement training of primary school teachers and raise the awareness of the society on the need for inclusive education; 95 per cent of persons with disabilities were currently studying in direct or indirect education programmes.  Persons with disabilities enjoyed free medical care at all levels of the health system, while the Disability and Rehabilitation Unit of the Ministry of Health implemented a project on the registry of persons with disabilities and worked on strengthening the capacity of rehabilitation services in the country.  Law 233 established job security for persons with disabilities and their spouses, their tutors, and for parents of disabled children.  Bolivia was committed to working in a tireless fashion to achieve the total inclusion of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society, on an equal basis and with equal opportunities as other members of the society.
 
Questions from the Committee Experts
 
SILVIA JUDITSH QUAN-CHANG, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bolivia, recognized that the 2009 Constitution recognized the ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of Bolivia, which had set an example for other countries in the continent.  Persons with disabilities, however, still faced difficulties, as the Constitution defined them as a group that needed protection which perpetuated the model of disabilities that transcended in a lack of programmes to promote their rights.  People with disabilities suffered disproportionately from poverty, which made them invisible and therefore vulnerable to violence, exclusion and abuse.  Bolivia was a country with a high level of poverty, and there were many barriers in rolling out social protection programmes to ensure that persons with disabilities lived their lives with dignity and independence. 
 
Bolivia had been very active in adopting legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities but there was a need to set priorities and move toward their implementation so that persons with disabilities could be recognized.  The Committee had information about violence against participants in the march of persons with disabilities who wanted to be heard by the President and raise the awareness of those who lived in poverty and extreme poverty.  What would be the best road to take to meet the needs of persons with disabilities?
 
Statement by the Delegation
 
NARDI SUXO ITURRY, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that for this dialogue to be constructive, two conditions must be met, that of transparency and proactive dialogue.  The delegation would take careful note of the comments by the Experts and the alternative reports.  Bolivia’s Patriotic Agenda covered many points contained in the 2030 Agenda, and rested on the key pillars of the eradication of extreme poverty and providing universal access to basic services, health and education for full well-being.  Bolivia had come a long way after 500 years of liberal government and the pillaging of its natural resources, of centuries of violence, exclusion, discrimination, exploitation and abuse.  It was very hard to know where one was going without knowing where one came from.  Bolivia had undertaken the same commitments in implementing the Convention as other countries which were richer and wealthier.  The economic model in Bolivia redistributed income through transfers and benefits through the Juancito Pinto, Juana Azurduy, and Renta Dignidad framework, and upheld a socio-communitarian vision.  Bolivia was constructing, little by little, a just and harmonious society, without discrimination and exploitation, with full social justice and with consolidation of plurinational identities.  The challenge was to decolonise the State, which was not possible without the participation and support of the society.
 
Questions by the Committee Experts

The human rights model of disability used by the Committee today was built on the social model of disability, said a Committee Expert and remarked that currently not all the laws in Bolivia were aligned with the Convention.  Furthermore, Bolivia considered the prevention of impairment a measure of implementation of the Convention, which should not be; measures such as genetic counselling, road safety and others that were in place in Bolivia were aimed at protecting the population and could not be used as a measure of protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. 
 
The State’s report did not contain information on discrimination against persons with disabilities, and was also silent on violence against women and girls with disabilities, and discrimination against women with disabilities, which were problems everywhere.  The report provided rich information on the situation of children, but not on children with disabilities; what was the situation of children with disabilities, were they registered at birth, were they in school, were they institutionalized, or abandoned?  What was the situation of indigenous children with disabilities?
 
How were persons with disabilities and representative organizations of persons with disabilities involved in the preparation of the report, including indigenous persons with disabilities and their organizations?  How did children with disabilities, including indigenous children, participate fully in the society on an equal footing with other children?  What was the consistency of the media aspect of the awareness campaign; was it a one-off activity or was the media involved on a systematic basis?  How was the definition of disability domesticated in Bolivia, including in regional laws?
 
There were people in Bolivia who had mobility challenges: what policies and practical measures were in place to enable those with limited mobility to move around freely and access various places?
 
The delegation was asked about complaints on the grounds of disability, how legal remedies were effective in practice, sanctions for perpetrators of disability-based discrimination, and the specific mechanisms in place to provide legal remedies to persons with disabilities?  Which mechanism was in place to monitor the implementation of accessibility standards?  How did Bolivia support representative organizations of persons with disabilities to undertake international cooperation and collaboration? 
 
The situation of women and children with disabilities was of utmost concern.  Many women with disabilities lived in situations of poverty, and they were usually single parents, with children from several fathers, with some children born out of rape; what measures were in place to support those women?  The universal registration at birth of children with disabilities was not guaranteed and very often children with disabilities did not receive the support needed to access services on an equal footing with other children.  The abandonment of children with disabilities was a real problem, and it increased their vulnerability to violence, abuse and exploitation; many children with disabilities fell pregnant and very little was being done to rectify the frequent cases of incest.  The delegation was asked about the mechanism in place to ensure access to justice to women and children with disabilities who were victims of violence; about concrete measures taken to tackle all forms of discrimination against women and girls with disabilities, particularly in the rural and remote areas; about progress made in eliminating discrimination against children with disabilities; and about measures to reduce high infant mortality rates in rural and remote areas.
 
The definition of disability in the Law on Disability was too medical and was too vague to be able to be implemented concretely, noted another Expert and asked about the plans to change the definition and bring it in line with the Convention.  What efforts were in place to ensure that denial of reasonable accommodation was a form of discrimination on the grounds of disability, and what initiatives were in the pipeline to ensure that discrimination of indigenous persons with disabilities was recognized as a human rights violation?  What plans were considered to recognize intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination and to ensure that children with disabilities were protected from corporal punishment?  
 
How did Bolivia ensure that the domestic anti-discrimination law was harmonized with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and with the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities?
 
SILVIA JUDITSH QUAN-CHANG, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bolivia, expressed concern that the certification of disability was still based on medical criteria and did not yet incorporate criteria based on the social or human rights based model of disability.  To date, some 53,000 persons had been certified as disabled, representing less than one per cent of the population, which meant that many persons with disabilities were actually not registered.  The Committee had received confidential information that in certain communities, especially remote ones, infanticide of children with disabilities was practiced.
 
MARIA SOLEDAD CISTERNAS REYES, Committee Chairperson, shared the concern expressed by a number of Experts concerning Bolivia’s medical approach to disability.  There was an ongoing conflict between the State and some segments of the population, including persons with disabilities, whereby the State had received 41 requests, including on employment and minimum salary; how could this delicate conflict be resolved, in the light of the dignity of persons with disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals?
 
Response by the Delegation

A delegate said that infanticide was punishable by law and stressed that the State did not have information about infanticide in remote and rural areas of the country.  Bolivia had reviewed the legislation to ensure that it was aligned with the Convention, including in the terminology.  Bolivia was ready to amend as appropriate any legislation that contained terminology at odds with that of the Convention, and had enacted a raft of laws to protect the rights of vulnerable persons, including women, boys, girls and persons with disabilities.  Law 348 provided comprehensive protection of women from violence and it embodied the concept of women with disabilities; protection of women with disabilities who were victims of violence was in the mandate of the police unit on gender-based violence and the judicial units on the issue.  The 2009 report on children had been used as a basis for the adoption of children, and it embodied a number of articles pertaining to the rights and protection of children with disabilities; in addition, many civil society organizations were active in the field of child protection. 
 
The State fully supported representative organizations of persons with disabilities and regularly consulted with them on laws and policies.  The registration of representative organizations of persons with disabilities was free of charge.  At the moment, there were five organizations which represented five types of disabilities.  A number of measures had been adopted to ensure accessibility, and to address physical barriers, communication barriers, and cultural and attitude barriers.  Accessibility in public transport was being promoted in several municipalities, with public tenders requiring suppliers of transport vehicles to conform to international accessibility standards.  Bolivia actively promoted the social model of disability and was in tune with the approach of the Convention.   
 
The Ministry of Health was working on improving its disability certification system which was outdated and used a medical approach to disability.  A new assessment method and methodology were being developed in cooperation with the World Health Organization.  A policy had been adopted to get rid of social exclusion and the Ministry was actively working on developing a new strategy to ensure social inclusion.  The strategy for persons with disabilities rested on four pillars of prevention, promotion, comprehensive care and rehabilitation; persons with disabilities received free health care at all levels of the health system.
 
Questions by the Committee Experts

In the second round of questions, the delegation was asked about inclusion in the provision of services to internally displaced persons and asylum seekers with disabilities; concrete training on disability provided to different rescue services in emergency situations; accessibility – physical and to information – for persons with disabilities taking part in court proceedings; reasonable accommodation provided to persons with disabilities deprived of their liberty through due process; and the support provided to persons with disabilities who needed a high level of assistance for daily functioning.
 
Committee Experts asked about measures to ensure that the rules governing forced sterilization were in line with the Convention, which required the person in question to give consent.  In a similar vein, the law on legal capacity was not in line with the Convention, which demanded that all persons with disabilities were regarded equally capable before the law and that human rights could not be taken away on the grounds of disability.  People with cognitive disabilities were deemed unfit to stand trial and were put in institutions, which deprived them of the right to a fair trial.  What plans were in place for a true reform in this regard and how were persons with disabilities and their representative organizations therein involved? 
 
What measures were being taken to ensure inclusive and accessible sexual and reproductive health information for women and girls with disabilities?  What concrete steps had been taken to strengthen the National Office for the Prevention of Violence and how were women with disabilities involved in the process?  How was Bolivia addressing the situation whereby women with disabilities in rural areas, including indigenous women, were not routinely issued with identity documents, which meant that they could not access public institutions, social services, or social protection mechanisms?  Which system was in place to ensure access to justice for deaf persons and persons with hearing disabilities?
 
The Committee had evidence of limitations on the right to expression by persons with disabilities involved in recent protests, who were threatened to be sent to prison for 10 years.  Could the delegation comment?
 
What procedures were available to persons with disabilities and their families to claim assistance and support for independent living?
 
SILVIA JUDITH QUAN-CHANG, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bolivia, spoke about the accident whereby a drunk driver had plunged into a group of demonstrators who were persons with disabilities and asked whether the reaction of the State authorities would have been different if the demonstrators were another group of the population.  The national preventive mechanism did not have the mandate to carry out visits to institutions where persons with disabilities were housed; would the mandate of the national mechanism be expanded or would Bolivia consider establishing an independent body for the oversight of institutions.  It was regrettable to hear that the police used excessive violence against persons with disabilities who were protesting and demonstrating.  Was this incident being investigated?
 
MARIA SOLEDAD CISTERNAS REYES, Committee Chairperson, asked about the system in place to ensure that all people in Bolivia had access to justice, and about the situations in which persons with disabilities could be declared not criminally responsible.
 
Response by the Delegation

The 2009 Constitution had added a human rights perspective to the rights of persons with disabilities, as seen by the adoption of the Act 223 on persons with disabilities in 2012.  In 2007, Bolivia had initiated a pilot project on the certification of persons with disabilities in La Paz and another project on the diagnosis and adequate treatment of persons with disabilities.  The definition and registry of persons with disabilities had been established by the 2008 Ministerial resolution which had rolled out a single national registry that had registered 61,447 individuals with disability by 2015.
 
The Ministry of Health had issued a directive on equipping primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities with ramps to ensure access to care facilities for persons with disabilities.  The Law 045 on discrimination and all forms of racism had been adopted in 2010 which prohibited and sanctioned all forms of racism and discrimination.
 
The Code on Boys, Girls and Adolescents had been adopted in 2014; it was geared to all children and adolescents in Bolivia without any discrimination and had incorporated a human rights-based approach to children and adolescents with disabilities.  Bolivia had been congratulated on the progress made in reducing child malnutrition rates, from 23 per cent in 2007 to 13 per cent, which was due to various programmes such as Bono Juana Azurduy and the multi-sectoral nutritional programme Corto.
 
All children including those with disabilities had the right to a name and registration at birth, in the framework of the constitutional right to identity and the provisions of the Code on Boys, Girls and Adolescents.  Genetic assessment was provided through the Ministry of Health, and Bolivia was bolstering the national health system through the training of nine experts in genetic assessment, with the aim of preventing disability.
 
Persons with disabilities had a participatory role in decision-making in public policies and the strategy for community-based rehabilitation was being implemented with the view of involving families, communities and societies to improve care for the needs of persons with disabilities, and ensure their full inclusion in the society and their independence.  The activities to raise awareness about the Convention involved the use of the media to eradicate the use of pejorative language in relation to persons with disabilities, in accordance with the law 045 against racism and all forms of discrimination. 
 
Furthermore, Bolivia had in place a directive requiring companies to ensure that four per cent of their workforce were persons with disabilities, and another requiring all institutions to remove architectural barriers to access and establish conditions of accessibility.  Persons with disabilities could benefit from preferential rates in air travel, public transport and telecommunication services.  In accordance with the law 233 on persons with disabilities, Bolivia was actively promoting associations of persons with disabilities, including organizations of women with disabilities.  The law 045 had created the National Committee against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination, which was currently composed of 68 accredited institutions: public institutions, social organizations including the Bolivian Federation of People of Disabilities, organizations of human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, and the Office of the Ombudsman. 
 
Currently, there were no refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons with disability, thus no services for such groups were in place.  The General Law 233 on persons with disabilities established the right to marry and form a family, and assume responsibilities of spouses and parents. 
 
All persons with disabilities had the right to participate in judicial procedures.  Prison facilities were usually old buildings which did not comply with accessibility standards; those would be integrated in new prison facilities.  At the moment, there were 33 persons with disabilities deprived of liberty. 
 
A deep analysis and research had been conducted in the issue of forced sterilization, which, among others, had been used to draft and adopt in 2013 the Comprehensive Law 348 to guarantee women a life free of violence, which in its article 271 addressed the issue of forced sterilization, which prescribed the requirement of consent for temporary or permanent removal of reproductive functions.
 
Bolivia was fully committed to ensuring the enjoyment of the full rights of persons with disabilities, and had put in place a strategy to revise all laws and norms which limited – partially or completely - the legal capacity of persons with disabilities, and replace it with a system of supported decision-making.
 
In terms of combatting violence against women with disabilities, the Comprehensive Law 348 to guarantee women a life free of violence had adopted an integral model of support to victims of violence, and in 2015 a Specialized Unit for gender-based violence had been set up, which was also in charge of registering the cases and collecting the data on victims and perpetrators, which also took into account data on disability.
 
Responding to questions related to the caravan of persons with disabilities and the protests, a delegate said that the strength of the current Government was based on its social movements, which were very dynamic, and that the President had risen through social movements.  The Government had, from the beginning, engaged in a dialogue and meetings with the protesters, and has shown willingness to discuss directly, transparently and sincerely in order to find a solution to this conflict.  On 28 and 29 April dialogues had been held between several Ministers and vice-Ministers and representative organizations of persons with disabilities, and they had encompassed a wide range of topics in addition to raising the disability benefit, including health, education, employment and other.  Numerous agreements had been signed, including the 42-point Agreement which enjoyed the commitment of the Government; it was currently being implemented and the requests would be met in a short time.
 
Questions by the Committee Experts

In the next round of questions and comments, a Committee Expert remarked that the replacement of the will of persons with disabilities concerning their sexual and reproductive rights by the will of relatives was contrary to the provisions of the Convention, and urged Bolivia to take into consideration this issue of over-riding the will of individuals with disabilities.  The Expert noted with satisfaction the recognition of sign language as an official language and establishing mechanisms so that certificates could be granted to sign language interpreters.  What plans were in place to fully incorporate sign language as a mechanism for access to information for persons with disabilities, and would there be sign language for indigenous languages?  What intentions were there concerning recognition of Braille as a writing system for the blind?  The Expert welcomed measures to integrate persons with disabilities into the labour force and asked about concrete measures concerning the inclusion of women with disabilities.  Why were the salaries of the staff working in the Department for Disabilities lower than those of the staff working in other Departments in the Ministry?
 
Literacy and education rates of persons with disabilities were very low: 46 per cent were illiterate and 33 per cent did not have any education at all.  The delegation was asked to explain this data, and in particular to inform about the measures taken to significantly increase the percentage of persons with disabilities in education today.  It asked about the concept of inclusive education in Bolivia and how it translated into a personal right; and whether segregated education in special schools was regarded as a form of discrimination.
 
In terms of the protests and demonstrations of persons with disabilities, the delegation was asked about plans to put in place a systematic dialogue and consultations with the representatives of the Caravan, especially in view of the implementation of the 42-point Agreement.
 
Another Expert expressed concern that the Bolivian Institute for the Blind, which was being established as an independent institution under the Ministry of Health and Sports, might indicate that blindness was seen as a health issue rather than a human rights issue.  How many persons with disabilities were among members of the Parliament?
 
The delegation was also asked about the training of health professionals in a human rights-based approach to disabilities; poverty among persons with disabilities and measures in place to address it, including multiple-dimensions of poverty; plans to implement Sustainable Development Goal N°17 related to the collection of reliable, high quality, timely and disaggregated data; the monitoring of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and how persons with disabilities were therein involved; about the system in place to ensure early identification and diagnosis of disability and provide support to parents, and to ensure training of teachers in inclusive education; and information about groups most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. 
 
SILVIA JUDITH QUAN-CHANG, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bolivia, raised concern about the high levels of poverty and extreme poverty among persons with disabilities and asked about concrete measures taken to transition those individuals towards more dignified living conditions.
 
Response by the Delegation

Responding, a delegate confirmed that every individual in Bolivia had the right to expression through any means, as long as this did not infringe on the rights of other individuals.  The Council for Bolivian Sign Language was an important issue which had received priority within the Ministry of Education and progress was being made in training and accrediting sign language interpreters.  It was a difficult task to expand the sign language to original languages considering that Bolivia had 36 indigenous languages and that it was difficult to have an umbrella Bolivian sign language which could then be recognized as an official language.  The Institute for the Blind was a long-standing institute which for many decades had been promoting the rights of the blind; it was under the Ministry of Health but that did not mean that all of its activities were health-related, but rather it applied a human rights-based approach as stipulated by the Convention.
 
With regard to the right to marry, the delegate said that the recently adopted Family Code did not refer to the incapacity to marry and established that the only impediment to marriage would be interdiction, which applied to a case of an adult who had intellectual or mental disabilities which would hamper judgement.  In the Civil Code, incapacity was featured to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities were not violated.  Bolivia was interested in adopting the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind and was currently studying the possibility of ratification.  The Bolivian Senate had just adopted a decision which declared 26 October the National Day of Persons with Disabilities.
 
Several programmes had been launched to reduce school drop-out rates, including the programme which provided cash incentives to students to stay in school, and it also included children with disabilities.  Teachers received training in disability modules so that they were prepared to teach students with disabilities, and it was not allowed for schools or colleges to deny school enrolment to children with disabilities. 
 
Bolivia had made giant strides in registering persons with disabilities and had in place a unified national registry, which enabled the Ministry of Health to put in place a strategy for health care for persons with disabilities and a system of free access to comprehensive health care for persons with disabilities.  Forty centres for stimulation had been put in place to ensure that children with disabilities were identified early and that they received early intervention; Bolivia planned to reach 83 such centres country-wide.  There were children who could not attend education because of their disabilities; those children benefitted from home schooling with the support of teachers and medical staff through the My Health Programme.
 
In cooperation with representative organizations of persons with disabilities, the Government had developed a draft law on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace, which required four per cent representation in the public sector and two per cent in the private sector; it was expected that the law would soon be adopted and enter into force immediately.  There were 32 sports practiced by persons with disabilities and five athletes with disability would participate in the Rio Paralympics in September 2016. 
 
Data collection was a shortcoming and no specific census for persons with disabilities had been undertaken.  A question on disability was included in the 2012 census and it had found that 342,929 persons in Bolivia lived with some form of disability.  Data on disability were also collected annually through the national system for health care information and the national educational system.  
 
Concluding Remarks
 
VIRGINIA VELASCO CONDORI, Minister of Justice of Bolivia, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to discuss progress achieved for persons with disabilities in Bolivia and invited the Committee to look at the context in which the Caravan developed: the protest was not only about persons with disabilities claiming their rights but there were also political considerations and tensions.  The Committee had raised the issue of infanticide of children with disabilities which had retained the attention of Bolivia.
 
SILVIA JUDITH QUAN-CHANG, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bolivia, recognized the challenges that Bolivia needed to overcome and the commitment to do so.  The Rapporteur also thanked representative organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society organizations and stressed the need for their continued work without intimidation.
 
MARIA SOLEDAD CISTERNAS REYES, Committee Chairperson, thanked all those who had contributed to this constructive dialogue.

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