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The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reviews the report of Cuba

GENEVA (27 March 2019) - The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its review of the initial report of Cuba on the measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez, Director-General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, informed that Cuba’s initial report was the result of broad and participatory consultations, which involved a number of Government institutions and non-governmental organizations.  For Cuba, the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, and their full inclusion in social life, had been a priority since 1959.  Since 1996, the National Council to Support Persons with Disabilities (CONAPED) had been in charge of implementing public policies and social programmes to better promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Government was implementing its Third National Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities, which dealt with prevention, evaluation, intervention and rehabilitation, accessibility of services, and social integration.  The implementation of that plan was linked with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  As part of its economic and social development model, Cuba had continued to strengthen its judicial and institutional framework for the protection of human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was directly applied, even though the country had no specific legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts underscored the principle of participation of persons with disabilities, and raised concern that some of their representative organizations could not be registered.  In addition, almost all of the laws still contained discriminatory language vis-à-vis disability.  The Experts were further concerned that Cuba did not have a standalone law on disability, and that laws continued to speak of disability in medical terms.  They wondered whether there was the necessary political will to bring about a paradigm shift from a medical approach to a human rights-based approach to disability.  The Experts further inquired about barriers faced by women with disabilities, especially by women of African descent living in rural areas, accessibility standards, employment of persons with disabilities in the open labour market, violence against persons with disabilities, the right to vote and stand for office, the right to marry and have children, harmonization of the Convention, and the registration of associations of persons with disabilities.  Other issues raised included public awareness raising campaigns, removal of guardianship laws, forced medical treatment and sterilization, registration of newborn children with “serious impairment,” the concept of “dangerousness” that applied to persons with psychosocial disabilities, independent monitoring mechanisms for institutionalized persons with disabilities, reasonable accommodation provided in education, access to cultural and sports activities, and the recognition of the Cuban sign language.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Rodriguez expressed hope that the Committee would come up with balanced and objective concluding observations.  With its new Constitution, Cuba would continue to refine its legislation in order to facilitate better support for the specific needs of persons with disabilities, and foster their full inclusion in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the country. 

Amalia Eva Gamio Rios, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Cuba, called on Cuba to adopt a law on the rights of persons with disabilities, ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, and replace the medical approach to disability with a human rights-based approach.  She stressed that the Attorney General’s Office was not an independent body that could contest the views of the Government and monitor the violations of the rights of persons with disabilities in institutions. 

Martin Babu Mwesigwa, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Cuba, recognized that Cuba was grappling with various development challenges, including the economic blockade.  However, that argument could not be sustained forever because other developing countries faced similar challenges.  Mr. Mwesigwa suggested to the delegation to invest more in awareness raising aimed at changing how society perceived disability and persons with disabilities.  

Danlami Umaru Basharu, Committee Chairperson, expressed hope that the dialogue would assist Cuba in the further implementation of the Convention.

The delegation of Cuba consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Public Health, and the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 5 April, to close its twenty-first session.

Report

The Committee has before it the initial report of Cuba (CRPD/C/CUB/1).

Presentation of the Report

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ, Director-General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, informed that Cuba’s initial report was the result of broad and participatory consultations, which involved a number of Government institutions and non-governmental organizations.  For Cuba, the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, and their full inclusion in social life, had been a priority since 1959.  Thanks to the triumph of the revolution and its profound vocation of humanism and social equality, it was possible to build a society based on equality of rights and social justice, and where no one was left abandoned to their faith.  In 2018, there were 447,674 persons with disabilities, out of which 46.3 per cent were women.  Since 1996, Cuba had had the National Council to Support Persons with Disabilities (CONAPED), which was in charge of implementing public policies and social programmes to better promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Government was implementing its Third National Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities, which dealt with prevention, evaluation, intervention and rehabilitation, accessibility of services, and social integration.  The implementation of that plan was linked to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  As part of its economic and social development model, Cuba had continued to strengthen its judicial and institutional framework for the protection of human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was directly applied, even though the country had no specific legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities.  Persons with disabilities enjoyed full access to justice and the authorities were strengthening mechanisms, remedies and procedures to prevent violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.  They could rely on full access to all State structures. 

The authorities were carrying out public awareness raising campaigns throughout the country in order to disseminate knowledge of the Convention, as well as to change pejorative language.  In terms of accessibility, in 2017 the Government had carried out 834 projects, including in the sector of tourism.  The authorities were also actively promoting access to employment and high-quality education for persons with disabilities.  The right to health was already a reality in Cuba with a universal and free-of-charge medical coverage, which included persons with disabilities.  Various programmes facilitated special medical care, including free provision of auditory and orthopaedic assistance.  Priority was accorded to women with disabilities, as well as to the practice of sports by persons with disabilities.  The authorities had been working to facilitate access to art and communication, especially new information technologies, for persons with disabilities.  In order to achieve all of that, Cuba had had to overcome various challenges facing a small island developing country, limited resources and adverse effects of the unjust and unsustainable international economic order, including the effects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for almost 60 years.  That criminal policy, which constituted a violation of the United Nations Charter and international human rights law, constituted the primary obstacle to the country’s development.  Nonetheless, on the basis of the political will of the Government and the will of the majority of the Cuban people, the authorities would continue to advance the promotion and protection of human rights.  

Questions by the Committee Experts

AMALIA EVA GAMIO RIOS, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur, noted Cuba’s efforts to improve the rights of persons with disabilities.  Underscoring the principle of participation of persons with disabilities, she raised concern that some organizations could not be registered.  In addition, almost all of the laws still contained discriminatory language vis-à-vis disability. 

Cuba needed to ensure that there was equal recognition of a person with disabilities before the law through supported decision-making.  Ms. Gamio Rios was deeply concerned that Cuba did not have a standalone law on disability, and that laws continued to speak of disability in medical terms. 

Ms. Gamio Rios drew attention to the barriers that women with disabilities faced when accessing services, especially women of African descent living in rural areas.  Was there a political will to bring about a paradigm shift from a medical approach to a human rights-based approach to disability?

She also inquired about the number of complaints of rape filed by women with disabilities, and about the number of children with disabilities living in institutions.  Were those institutions sufficiently monitored to avoid violence and abuse?

MARTIN BABU MWESIGWA, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur, noted the lack of disability-specific provisions for non-discrimination.  He inquired about the accessibility standards in the capital city Havana. 

The employment of persons with disabilities in the open labour market, and especially the employment of women with disabilities should be promoted, Mr. Mwesigwa noted, adding that too many Cubans with disabilities lived in abject poverty.  

Violence against persons with disabilities seemed to be common, especially in rural areas.  As for the electoral process, the Country Co-Rapporteur suggested that more discussions were needed regarding the right to vote and stand for office for persons with disabilities. 

Finally, Mr. Mwesigwa asked about the extent to which associations of persons with disabilities were involved in training on the rights of persons with disabilities. 

Other Experts inquired about the full and effective participation of women with disabilities.  What measures had been taken to eliminate discrimination inequality between men and women with disabilities?  Had the Government included a gender perspective in policies related to women? 

What measures were being taken to harmonize the Convention and eliminate derogatory terms from current laws?  Experts reminded that the prohibition of corporal punishment was stated in several articles of the Convention. 

Through which mechanisms could persons with disabilities file complaints of discrimination?  Did the State party have any policy to make it mandatory for public procurement to follow accessibility criteria? 

What was the procedure for the registration of associations of persons with disabilities?  How did those associations operate?  Why had they not submitted alternative reports to the Committee? 

How did persons with disabilities participate in public awareness raising campaigns?  How did the authorities disseminate information to persons with disabilities? 

Could a child with disabilities be refused access to school, and if yes, what measures applied? 

Replies by the Delegation

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ, Director-General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, clarified that three civil society organizations were members of the Cuban delegation.  There had been at least three organizations that had presented their reports, and there had been no restrictions against organizations that wanted to take part in the dialogue with the Committee.  The Law on Association might be amended following the adoption of the new Constitution, but it did not in any way limit the registration of associations of persons with disabilities. 

With the adoption of the new Constitution, Cuba would gradually tailor its laws, especially with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities.  Laws were not solely based on a medical approach, the delegation explained.  All courts of the country must apply the principle of most legal capacity for persons with disabilities, in line with the human rights-based approach. 

The existing Criminal Law established sufficient procedures and remedies for persons with disabilities when their rights were violated.  The new Constitution furthermore recognized that every person whose rights had been violated by public officials had a right to claim reparations.  The Attorney General’s Office processed and investigated grievances.  Cuba had a low crime rate, and the Government did its utmost to investigate crimes committed against persons with disabilities.    

There was no one living in extreme poverty in Cuba.  All persons in the country had minimum resources and social protection.  Five main areas - health, education, employment, participation and accessibility – were considered when policies for persons with disabilities were designed.  Access to labour was seen by the Government as the basis for accessing other rights.  Associations of persons with disabilities took part in the design and monitoring of the policies that concerned them, and they had presence at all levels of the Government. 

Accessibility was the key area of the work of associations of persons with disabilities.  However, due to the United States’ embargo, much of the necessary equipment could not reach Cuba.  Access to justice for deaf persons was facilitated through sign interpretation.  There were more than 300 sign language interpreters in the country. 

Awareness raising campaigns about the rights of persons with disabilities had been published in different formats, and they had been aired on radio and television.  In 2017, with the support of United Nations funds, a new innovative campaign had been organized.  The delegation underlined that Cuba had made more strides in the protection of persons with disabilities than much wealthier countries. 

As for the full participation and empowerment of women with disabilities in Cuba, a representative of civil society from Cuba underlined that many women with disabilities worked regular jobs, had completed university education, and provided leadership in their own communities.  It was important for the Committee to take into account the information provided by legitimate Cuban press in order to be able to assess the advances made by the Government in the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.

There was a system for reporting harassment, violence and abuse in educational facilities.  No such cases had been related to students with disabilities.  A teacher found to have harassed and abused students would not be reintegrated in the education system.  All boys and girls had the right to high-quality education.  Attention was given to those who were in prolonged hospital care and they were provided with assistance at home in order to catch up.  The education system in Cuba disposed of alternative means of communication, such as sign language, curricula adjustments, and additional training for teachers.    

As for the use of derogatory disability language in national legal texts, the delegation explained that some of the laws predated the ratification of the Convention.  The State party was currently undergoing legislative procedures to revise and harmonize all of the terminology in line with the Constitution.

All persons with disabilities had the right to vote and to stand for office.  For example, there was an assistive vote procedure in the referendum on the new national Constitution, including for hospitalized persons.     

Only 3 per cent of persons with mental disabilities were institutionalized.  There was no forced hospitalization and surgery was performed only upon prior and informed consent of persons with disabilities. 

Second Round of Questions by the Committee Experts

When and how would the State party remove guardianship laws in line with General Comment No. 1?  How did the State party ensure that persons with disabilities could live where they wanted and with whom they wanted? 

An Expert asked about measures being taken to prevent the use of forced treatment, forced sterilization, and electric shocks on children with psychosocial disabilities.  What legal and other measures had the State party taken to protect women and children with disabilities from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation, especially domestic violence?

There were serious allegations that newborn children with “serious impairment” were not immediately registered.  What had the authorities done to eradicate that practice, which was contrary to the Convention? 

Furthermore, the Experts pointed out to allegations that human rights defenders’ freedom of movement had been seriously limited.  Echoing the importance of the effective and meaningful participation of women’s organizations, an Expert wanted to ask if there were only three associations of persons with disabilities in the country. 

Were there any restrictions on the participation of associations of persons with disabilities in the dialogue with the Committee?  How did the State party involve those associations in obtaining assistive devices and training on mobility? 

Did the State party intend to repeal all legal provisions relating to the concept of “dangerousness,” which only applied to persons with psychosocial disabilities?  What follow-up measures were taken for guardianship for persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities?

What progress had been made on the new Family Code to fully and explicitly abolish corporal punishment of children?  Was there an independent monitoring mechanism for institutionalized persons with disabilities? 

Were the country’s disaster risk reduction plans discussed with persons with disabilities in the drafting stage, and were they available in accessible formats for all persons with disabilities? 
   
What kind of institutions and bodies were in charge of independent living for persons with disabilities?  What was their composition?  Could applicants file complaints?

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Chairperson, inquired about how access to justice was facilitated for persons with disabilities.  Were persons with disabilities encouraged to work as judges, lawyers and prosecutors? 

An Expert raised the issue of arbitrary detention of those who criticized the Government’s policies.  Could the delegation account for the number of arbitrarily detained and harassed civil society activists?

MARTIN BABU MWESIGWA, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked who decided the level of “dangerousness” of a person with psychosocial disabilities. 

How did persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities participate in public consultations concerning matters affecting their lives?  Were they allowed to form their own organizations?  What about those persons whose political convictions were different from that of the Government? 
  
Replies by the Delegation

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ, Director-General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, clarified that Cuba was not heaven and that persons with disabilities in Cuba did not live in a wonder world.  It was a developing country with many financial restrictions, which had been exacerbated by the United States’ embargo and its hostile policy.  However, Cuba did have good human capital and it wanted to share it with the rest of the world, such as medical expertise.  The authorities were willing not to leave anyone behind and to share it with the neediest people in the world. 

Explaining the historical and political context, Mr. Reyes Rodríguez noted that the United States had never accepted the sovereign will of the Cuban people to be free and independent.  Since 1959, the United States had been waging a war mongering policy against Cuba.  The manipulation of human rights justified the United States’ embargo against Cuba.  The so-called human rights defenders were on the payroll of the United States Government and sought to bring about regime change.  Sadly, Human Rights Watch was one of those organizations used by the United States in its policy against Cuba.  Mr. Reyes Rodríguez denied any form of harassment against human rights defenders. 

Mr. Reyes Rodríguez noted that as a person with disability himself, he could attest to the viability of the Cuban health system.  He had received his prosthetic leg free of charge.  Despite shortages of petrol and fuel, the State had done its utmost to help persons with disabilities.

There were three non-governmental organizations bringing together persons with disabilities in Cuba, the delegation explained.  They were recognized under law and their mission was to defend the rights of persons with disabilities and to set about general targets for inclusion and participation of all persons with disabilities.  They had full power to bring their claims to the State.  Those organizations assessed their activities on an annual basis in order to improve their performance.  The State ensured that means and resources were set aside in order to raise the visibility of those three non-governmental organizations. 

It was the goal of those three associations to ensure that persons with disabilities could decide where to live and who they lived with, as well as to provide women with disabilities with sexual and reproductive health rights and information.  Very few persons with disabilities lived outside of the family.  They received ongoing support services. 

There was a national programme to provide healthcare to women with disabilities.  Many women with disabilities worked regular jobs, whereas some worked in specialized workshops due to the type of their disability.  The equality of rights among men and women guaranteed the economic independence of women, and Cuba did not allow or tolerate discrimination in salary.

In 2014, the Attorney General’s Office had received 129 complaints of violations of the rights of persons with disabilities, out of which 23 per cent had been found to be well-founded.  Training was provided to judicial staff, and there were currently 37 judges, lawyers and prosecutors with disabilities. 

In accordance with the Convention, all persons with disabilities deprived of liberty were provided with educational and social assistance in order to achieve social rehabilitation.  The legal provision of “dangerousness” was applied to persons with psychosocial disabilities only upon prior medical evaluation.  It was an exceptional measure used only in extreme cases.  Whereas there was no normative act forbidding corporal punishment, the State had stepped up work to raise awareness in society about that problem. 

Persons with disabilities in Cuba had the right to inherit property, control their own economic affairs, and to access bank loans.  Children with disabilities were not separated from their families.  Those who were institutionalized lived in homes that resembled family homes.  

Teachers’ training contained modules on early intervention and the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was used as a bibliographic background document in all educational institutions, and it was available in accessible formats.

Violence against women and children with disabilities was not a frequent occurrence in Cuba, which was why the authorities had not considered opening shelters for them.  There were no arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders.  The delegation stressed that everyone in Cuba enjoyed the right to freedom of movement.  In 2018, Cuban citizens had realized more than 552,000 trips abroad for personal reasons.

As for support for persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction plans, the Cuban authorities were very attentive to the subject.  There were programmes that guaranteed the security and safety of persons with disabilities, including accessibility provisions and specialized health services.  There was a focus on the training of more public officials to improve informational flows in accessible formats, in line with the 2015 Sendai Framework.  Since 2015, Cuba had developed a project entitled “Ciudades Preparadas” (“Prepared Towns”), training more than 3,000 persons with disabilities and their families.   

All medical procedures at psychiatric hospitals were carried out with prior free and informed consent.  There was a downward trend in the use of electroconvulsive therapy, which could not be used on children, and which could only be used after specialized diagnosis and in line with the relevant protocol.  There was no forced sterilization in Cuba. 

Some 99.9 per cent of all births were carried out in hospitals and all relevant birth registration documents were delivered to parents.  Every birth in Cuba was registered, even if babies died within 78 hours.      

Due to the economic blockade, Cuba had had to resort to cooperation with international non-governmental organizations.  In 2014, a project funded by the European Union and the CBM (formerly known as the Christian Blind Mission) aimed to purchase necessary equipment for persons with disabilities.  The authorities provided home help to persons with severe mobility disabilities, as well as subsidies to mothers with children with disabilities.  None of those services were imposed; they had to be requested.  Reasonable accommodation was carried out in places of work for persons with disabilities.  The authorities paid the electricity and transport bills of patients with chronic diseases. 

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva, underlined that Cuba was honoured to present its initial report to the Committee in the spirit of cooperation, and he stressed the importance of the contribution of major Cuban non-governmental organizations to the dialogue.  The Ambassador said that he was under the impression that some of the questions posed by the Experts reflected a lack of knowledge about Cuba.  He thus encouraged the Committee Experts to consult with Cuban non-governmental organizations and relevant United Nations reports on Cuba, which had classified Cuba as one of the highest-ranking countries with respect to human development.  The Ambassador underscored that all Cuban children with or without disabilities were at school. 

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Chairperson, agreed with the Ambassador that the Committee was looking for cooperation with the delegation of Cuba, which would help it prepare a roadmap for the implementation of the Convention in the country.

Third Round of Questions by the Committee Experts

What steps had been taken by the State party to recognize the Cuban sign language and Brail, and to provide information available in accessible formats? 

The Experts further inquired about measures to remove all types of restrictions on the right to marry for persons with disabilities, especially for those with psychosocial disabilities.

How was reasonable accommodation provided in education, especially for deaf students at the tertiary level? 

The Experts asked about sexual and reproductive health programmes for women and girls with disabilities.  How did the State party develop a human rights-based rather than a medical approach to medical services for persons with disabilities? 

What measures were in place to prevent the separation of children with disabilities from their families and their placement in institutions? 

Was web accessibility standard set in Cuba?  Were the opinions of blind persons and visually impaired persons taken into account in the decision to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty?   

An Expert observed that there should be an appropriate level of distance between the Government and associations of persons with disabilities in order for their cooperation to be fruitful.

How could the delegation explain the underrepresentation of women and girls with disabilities in the health sector?   What were “psycho-educational” centres for children with psychosocial disabilities and how did they fit into inclusive education for children with disabilities? 

How did the State party ensure access to cultural and sports activities for persons with disabilities?

An Expert reminded that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities covered not only economic, social and cultural rights, but also civil and political rights.  Accordingly, he asked the delegation how Cuba ensured the full participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life. 

Replies by the Delegation

Cuba did not have a legal act recognizing sign language.  Nevertheless, there were programmes and training centres on teaching sign language, which were preparing a case for the recognition of Cuba’s sign language.  Brail was officially recognized and was used throughout the education system in the country. 

Whilst it was true that there were accessibility standards in the country, associations of persons with disabilities were still working to make information and communication technologies fully accessible.  They were focusing on e-government and e-commerce in order to apply universal design to all aspects of life for persons with disabilities.

The delegation reminded that the State had a social security scheme and a budget for the provision of assistive devices to persons with disabilities.  Parents of children with disabilities were given subsidies.  Persons with disabilities had the right to family planning and to decide whether they wanted to have children.

Psycho-educational centres had been designed to provide skills to boys and girls with disabilities before their insertion in the labour market.  The delegation noted that just 2 per cent of persons with psychosocial disabilities were institutionalized.  All educational institutions in the country disposed of appropriate furniture and adapted materials. 

The delegation reiterated that nothing prevented a group of persons to register a new association of persons with disabilities, including persons with intellectual disabilities.  All they had to do was to follow the relevant procedures. 

In 2016, Cuba had adopted a document called “Basis for Social and Economic Development until 2030,” embodying actions to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities and to raise awareness about the importance of the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all spheres of development.  A national working group followed up on the implementation of actions and plans related to persons with disabilities.  Cuba also remained open to considering the positive experiences and examples of other countries.   

As for the participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life, the delegation stressed that they were represented in Parliament and at regional assemblies.  Persons with disabilities were also actively involved in the drafting of the new Constitution.  There were no reasons standing in the way for persons with disabilities to stand for office.   

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ, Director-General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, confirmed that the Government provided funds for the treatment of certain medical conditions, as well as subsidies for transportation, electricity, gas and water.  The authorities were trying to individualize the services provided to persons with disabilities.  No State institution interfered into the decision of persons with disabilities to have children, Mr. Reyes Rodríguez emphasized.  Whenever possible, the State supported independent living by persons with disabilities.  Children with disabilities were provided with support and training for their families.  They were only institutionalized when there was no other option.    

He further underlined that it was an advantage to have three nationally present associations to work for the interests of persons with disabilities because it gave them more clout.  In Cuba, non-governmental organizations were neither far from nor close to the Government.

The Government was studying the possibility of ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty, which it had co-sponsored.  As a developing country, Mr. Reyes Rodríguez noted that Cuba was still working to consolidate its statistics gathering.  All persons with disabilities were registered by the public health system.

It was a matter of pride for Cuba to have a number of persons with disabilities as university graduates.  Rehabilitation institutions were of high quality and they existed in each municipality.  Any person with disabilities had access to those services, which were free of charge.  Cuba could not import relevant equipment from North American and European countries, but it was able to buy such equipment in the most remote markets, Mr. Reyes Rodríguez explained. 

Turning to the civil and political rights of persons with disabilities, Mr. Reyes Rodríguez noted that they exercised their right to vote and they were represented in Parliament.     

Concluding Remarks

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ, Director-General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, thanked the Committee Experts for their questions and comments, which had made the dialogue a highly interactive and learning exercise.  He assured the Committee that the dialogue would help Cuba make progress in the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.  Mr. Reyes Rodríguez expressed hope that the Committee would come up with balanced and objective concluding observations.  With its new Constitution, Cuba would continue to refine its legislation in order to facilitate better support for the specific needs of persons with disabilities, and foster their full inclusion in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the country. 

AMALIA EVA GAMIO RIOS, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Cuba, thanked the delegation for their replies, noting that the Committee and the delegation shared a common goal of ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Committee was aware of the situation in Cuba, having received reports from civil society.  The Co-Rapporteur added that she was not under the impression that the non-governmental organizations that had come to Geneva as part of the delegation were fully independent.  It was important to adopt a law on the rights of persons with disabilities, and to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.  The Attorney General’s Office was not an independent body that could contest the views of the Government and monitor the violation of the rights of persons with disabilities in institutions.  In all areas of life, the medical approach to disability should be eliminated and replaced by a human rights-based approach.  The Family Code should explicitly prohibit corporal punishment of children.  Public officials should be trained on the Convention, which should be available in Brail, Ms. Gamio Rios noted.

MARTIN BABU MWESIGWA, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Cuba, recognized that Cuba was grappling with various development challenges, including the economic blockade.  However, the argument that disability concerns could not be addressed because of the lack of adequate resources could not be sustained forever because other developing countries faced similar challenges.  Mr. Mwesigwa reminded the delegation that one of the most cost-effective mechanisms was strategic investment in awareness raising aimed at changing how society perceived disability and persons with disabilities.  

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their explanations and organizations of persons with disabilities for their contributions to the constructive dialogue.  He expressed hope that the dialogue would assist Cuba in the further implementation of the Convention.

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