Header image for news printout

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stresses the needs to address the situation of women, girls and ethnic minorities in dialogue with Myanmar

Committee on the Rights of Persons
  with Disabilities 

29 August 2019

The situation of women, girls and ethnic minorities was among issues highlighted by Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as it considered the initial report of Myanmar on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Despite the progress achieved, Committee Experts expressed concern about the multiple and intersectional discrimination against women, girls and ethnic minority groups in the country.  This concern had also been voiced by other treaty bodies.  He stressed the importance of addressing the situation of women and girls with disabilities.  Any amendment of the legislation and any reform of disability policies could not open the way to a better future if they failed to address these issues.  

Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar in Geneva, said that Myanmar was a place where women and men enjoyed equal rights, as regarded, for instance, land rights and retirement age.  An agreement had been reached during the Twenty-First Century Conference to ensure that women made up a minimum of 30 per cent of staff working in every sector.  Following the publication of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, many steps had been taken to address the issues it broached.  The Government had launched a 24-hour helpline service in 2016 to assist women and child victims of violence.  One-stop crisis centres had been created in various cities and work was underway to open more such centres.  Between 2017 and 2019, there had been 915 reported cases of violence against women. 

When there were violations, they tended to be intersectional, said Experts, citing the case of a blind woman who was raped.  They asked what measures were in place to address such situations.  Why could the Government not take measures to stop violence and crimes against women and children with disabilities who belonged to ethnic minorities?  

In his concluding observations, Jun Ishikawa, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Myanmar, said the dialogue had been meaningful.  Myanmar had shown significant progress and a forward-looking disposition regarding the promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities.  However, this was still at an initial stage; continuous and additional efforts were needed.

Mr. Tun said the discussion would contribute to enhancing cooperation with the Committee and help Myanmar take further steps in the right direction.  It was really appreciated.  Human rights in Myanmar could not be realized without achieving the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Jonas Ruskus, Committee Vice-Chairperson, thanked the delegation, organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society.  

The delegation of Myanmar consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Thursday, 29 August at 3 p.m. to consider the combined second and third periodic report of Ecuador (CRPD/C/ECU/2-3 ).

Report

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

Presentation of the Report

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Chairman of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Vice-President of Myanmar had said that “People living with disabilities are facing difficulties and obstacles in their daily life not because of the disability itself, but because of their surroundings, physical and mental attitudes, and other barriers.”  This reflected the fact that it was the obligation of the Government to tackle the obstacles and bring down the barriers, including social and mental barriers.

The current democratically elected civilian government had been reforming public institutions and strengthening the rule of law to create a fair and just society for all people in the country.  The realization of human rights was one of the top priorities of the current Government, along with achieving peace and development in the country.  Myanmar was doing its utmost to fulfil its obligations, including reporting. However, as a developing country, it faced various types of challenges such as capacity constraints.

A delegate then went on to highlight the developments that had taken place after the submission of the initial report.  After becoming a State party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Myanmar, in accordance with article 4 of the Convention, had enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law on 5 June 2015 and By-Laws on 27 December 2017.   The Law and By-Laws had been drafted in line with the Convention, with the assistance of, and in cooperation with, relevant stakeholders such as organizations representing persons with disabilities.

The National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had been established to effectively improve the situation of persons with disabilities.  It was chaired by the Vice-President of Myanmar.  Members of the Committee also included representatives from organizations representing persons with disabilities, civil society organizations, and volunteers.  To support the work of the National Committee, the Working Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was formed in September 2018 to fully implement the tasks of the National Committee.

Citing the saying “Nothing about us, without us”, he explained that, as committees and sub-committees were being established, the Government had sought the opinion and advice of relevant stakeholders.  Persons with disabilities were encouraged to play a leading role.  The Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities had already established 12 regional-level offices.  After the establishment of other offices in different regions and states, they would work closely with the state and regional committees on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Turning to international cooperation, he explained that a Myanmar delegation led by the Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement had attended the first Global Disability Summit held in the United Kingdom in July 2018 and, together with other participants, had signed the seven commitments relating to the development of persons with disabilities enshrined in the Charter for Change.

For the sustainable livelihood of persons with disabilities, the Government had offered a training course on growing mushrooms and producing products based on mushrooms in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability, as well as a training course on massage for persons with visual disability in cooperation with Japan Heart.  This contributed to the creation of job opportunities. Furthermore, in order to create better job opportunities for persons with disabilities, a handbook titled “Employing Persons with Disabilities” had been published. 

Myanmar had taken steps to guarantee the right to participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life.  In cooperation with the National Human Rights Commission and the Union Election Commission, the Government had created appropriate conditions to ensure the effective participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process during the general election in 2015 and the 2018 by-elections.  Awareness raising activities were being conducted by the Union Election Commission in this regard.

Myanmar had made significant progress in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Myanmar, despite the formidable challenges that it was facing.  The Government was fully aware of the fact that there was room for further improvement.

Challenges remained.  Myanmar was, for example, in need of financial support to provide accessibility-related services such as inclusive transportation services, sign language training schools, and job opportunities.  Despite constraints and challenges, Myanmar was resolute to continue promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.  It hoped that the Committee would provide constructive support so it may overcome challenges and realize the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Questions by the Committee Experts

JUN ISHIKAWA, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Myanmar, said he was pleased to note the momentum to realize the rights of persons with disabilities and the progress achieved since the ratification of the Convention in 2011.  The Committee was aware that Myanmar was facing many constraints.  Despite the progress achieved, he expressed concern about the multiple and intersectional discrimination against women and girls and ethnic minority groups in the country.  This concern had also been voiced by other treaty bodies.  He stressed the importance of addressing the situation of women and girls with disabilities.  Any amendment of the legislation and any reform of disability policies could not open the way to a better future if they failed to address these issues.  

He stressed that the Committee was not here to criticize the State party.  Substantial and detailed responses were welcome as they would allow the Committee to elaborate better recommendations.

An Expert sought information on the classification and determination of disability.  On what did the Government base its classification process?  The Committee encouraged States parties to shift away from the medical model and perceive persons with disabilities as rights holders.  He requested information on efforts made regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the elaboration, development and monitoring of disability policies.  How were organizations representing persons with disabilities included in the legislation drafting process? Given that there were still armed conflicts in the country, he enquired about measures to protect persons with disabilities in such a context.  Were there sanctions for those who failed to comply with accessibility requirements in construction?

Another Expert asked how persons with disabilities were defined in the 2015 law on the rights of persons with disabilities.  Were there plans to address the stigmatizing definitions and adopt a definition that was in line with the Convention?  The Committee had received information to the effect that there were still obstacles preventing some people from participating in consultations, notably obstacles related to accessibility.  How was the State addressing that issue?  He requested information on mechanisms that were in place to allow people whose rights had been violated to seek redress.  On the building code, it seemed that there had been hitches and that it had not been implemented fully.  He asked the delegation to provide information on this matter.

Another Expert asked for details about the effectiveness and scope of involvement of organizations representing persons with disabilities in decision-making processes, at both the national and municipal levels, that were related to the State’s obligations under the Convention.   He requested information on training provided to teachers and medical staff.  How effective had the work programme of the national plan of action to combat trafficking been?  He asked for information on efforts made to raise awareness on the rights of persons with leprosy.

Turning to the new Child Rights Act, an Expert noted with concern that some persons from minority ethnic groups, including persons with disabilities, faced discriminatory barriers in obtaining citizenship, and as a result were denied rights guaranteed in the Convention, such as access to health, education, employment, political participation and justice.   Was Myanmar considering changes that would allow those that were prevented from obtaining citizenship under the 1982 law on citizenship to finally do so?

Another Expert, turning to women with disabilities, asked if there were specific measures in place to ensure their protection.

When there were violations, they tended to be intersectional, said an Expert, citing the case of a blind woman who was raped.  She asked what measures were in place to address such situations.

Were State funds available to support awareness-raising activities, asked another Expert?

JUN ISHIKAWA, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Myanmar, asked if the delegation could provide a timeline to review the Constitution and the penal code and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and policies.  He sought clarification regarding the State party’s responses pertaining to article 6.  Why could the Government not take measures to stop violence and crimes against women and children with disabilities who belonged to ethnic minorities?  He requested a timeline and information on measures to address stigma, discrimination and harm of all types against children with disabilities and their access to education, health and all other services without discrimination.

Replies by the Delegation

Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed that all those present were there for the betterment of persons with disabilities, all persons with disabilities.  “No one left behind” meant that the situation of all those who had disabilities -- be they girls, children, or members of an ethnic minority -- had to be addressed.

On the constitutional amendment, he said that it was one of the pressing issues faced by Myanmar.  Everybody knew that.  When the new Government came to power in 2016, it had tried to amend it.  This year, a Committee had been formed in Parliament and members of Parliament were trying their best to achieve this.  It was said that over 3,000 proposals to amend the Constitution had been made.  It was an ongoing process, and a matter that the Government was following closely.  It was a complex issue, one that was very sensitive.  He expressed hope that the members of the Committee would understand the situation faced by the Government and the people of Myanmar.

On the law on citizenship, he explained that it established a procedure, and that procedure had to be followed.  The Government encouraged those who wanted to obtain the Myanmar citizenship to go through the procedure.  On registrations, Myanmar was not a rich country, he recalled.  Therefore, sometimes it was not able to reach people in remote areas.  There were people who were trying to prevent foreign investments in the country.  He appealed to members of the Committee to encourage foreign direct investments, as they would be helpful with regard to development and improving accessibility. 

Most human rights violations took place in areas affected by armed conflict.  That was why the Government was making the peace process a top priority.  Myanmar was a place where women and men enjoyed equal rights, as regarded, for instance, land rights and retirement age.  An agreement had been reached during the Twenty-First Century Conference to ensure that women made up a minimum of 30 per cent of staff working in every sector.  Following the publication of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, many steps had been taken to address the issues it broached.  The Government had launched a 24-hour helpline service in 2016 to assist women and child victims of violence.  One-stop crisis centres had been created in various cities and work was underway to open more such centres.

Temporary shelters for victims of trafficking had been established in that context.  Between 2017 and 2019, there had been 915 reported cases of violence against women. 

With the help of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the United Nations Development Programme, a joint project had been put in place to provide a variety of services to women, including in camps and disaster-affected areas.  

The delegation, turning to leprosy, said that a national conference on this disease had been held and efforts were being made to better address the needs of persons affected by it.

On the 2015 law on the rights of persons with disabilities, the Government had acceded to the Convention in 2011 and based on its provisions, the legislation had been amended.  The Government had received recommendations and had closely reviewed the law to include appropriate definitions of disabilities, in close collaboration with the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities.  An English version was not yet available.

Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the law that had been adopted in 2015 was the result of a process that had started earlier.  It had been quite a long process that had led to the enactment of that law.  It was still necessary to amend the law and improve it.  The Government would be grateful for the Committee’s recommendations in that regard. 

The delegation stressed that it had taken 15 years to develop the law that had been adopted in 2015.  Some provisions were outdated and had to be updated.  Before the Government got involved in developing the law, some civil society organizations had started working on it and had made proposals to the Government in 2010.  In the near future, civil society organizations would want to make additional changes. For the time being, there were only four types of disabilities listed in the law.  Perhaps psycho-social disabilities and leprosy could be added to the list.  It was important to move towards a rights-based approach. 

Myanmar needed support.  Not only financial support, but also technical support.  It was now working on improving the registration process with the United Nations Children's Fund.

Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in response to a question on the Government’s response to trafficking in persons, pointed out that there was an anti-trafficking law and police stations were now equipped with anti-trafficking units.  The level of development of the country also affected the Government’s ability to respond to this issue. Nevertheless, a hotline had been set up, and awareness-raising events were organized by police stations.   The police used to say that trafficking issues did not fall under its purview, but the Government had taken action, leading to the creation of anti-trafficking units in police stations.

The delegation explained that the Government had partnered with the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities as well as other organizations of persons with disabilities to provide training and organize awareness raising activities at both the national and local levels.  In the near future, the Government would put in place pilot projects to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in public life.

Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the budget of the Ministry dealing with disability issues had been increased.

There was a pilot project in place in the capital to improve accessibility.  He expressed hope that it could be extended to other cities.  

Regarding the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, Mr. Tun said Myanmar was trying to sign as many conventions as possible.  At the same time, it faced numerous constraints.  Myanmar was in the process of ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Ministry of Social Welfare had conducted awareness-raising activities related to the rights of persons with disabilities in emergency situations.  A handbook on disability terminology had been developed by the Government in collaboration with the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities.

Follow-Up Questions by Committee Members

A Committee Expert asked if there were plans to amend the code of criminal procedure, the prison act and other relevant acts to strike from legislation “lunatics” or “criminal lunatics”.  Did persons with disabilities have access to free legal services?  Were there measures in place to support financially persons with disabilities that did not meet the requirement to receive free legal assistance?  He requested information on support provided with regard to the acquisition of assistive devices.

Another Expert asked what the Government was doing to ensure that persons with disabilities in the country were registered as citizens with the right to work and to make legal decisions for themselves.  He requested information on the situation of persons with intellectual disabilities.  What support was provided to them and their families?

How was the Government ensuring the right to live independently in the community, in particular for persons with disabilities that belonged to minority groups and persons affected by leprosy, asked another Expert.  In that regard, information on people living in remote rural areas would be welcome.  She requested information on the provision of assistive devices vis-a-vis the relevant policies of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

On humanitarian emergencies, what measures were in place to allow national humanitarian actors full and unfettered access to all people and in particular to persons with disabilities in need of humanitarian assistance and protection throughout Rakhine state, especially in the north.  He stressed the urgency and seriousness of the need to protect women and girls from sexual abuse.  What measures were in place to protect boys and girls from sexual abuse?

Another Expert asked about the specific services offered to women and girls with disabilities in shelters and centres created for victims of trafficking.

An Expert asked for information about services available for persons with disabilities in terms of personal mobility.  Were there State-driven initiatives, financial or otherwise, to improve the mobility of persons with disabilities in the framework of independent living?  If a wheelchair user arrived in the country, would that person be able to visit all sightseeing spots in the new capital?

JUN ISHIKAWA, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Myanmar, asked the delegation to provide information on regular training offered to members of the judiciary and law-enforcement officers, including police officers and prison officers, on the rights of persons with disabilities and the diversity of disabilities.

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Vice-Chairperson, asked if the delegation could inform the Committee of measures put in place to prevent forced sterilization, including forced abortions, of residents with disabilities.

Follow-Up Answers by the Delegation

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said there was no discrimination in the issuance of identification cards.  The Government was reaching out to persons living in remote and rural areas.  Efforts were also being made to issue such cards for persons with disabilities.  The Ministry of Health also reached out to people in need.  Efforts were also being made to issue birth certificates.

Regarding humanitarian situations, frankly, the 2015 law on persons with disabilities did not mention this matter.  There were, however, provisions on emergencies in the law on humanitarian issues.  The Government could, and would, act in accordance with the existing laws.

On awareness raising, there were activities carried out in schools.

The delegation said the Government had collected data on the residential addresses of persons with disabilities for safety and protection purposes, as well as to facilitate their evacuation in case of emergency.

The upcoming plan on the classification and registration system would contribute to the protection and safety of persons with disabilities.  The law on disaster management was being reviewed to ensure a more comprehensive service provision.  The Government could do more on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide services to persons with disabilities in areas affected by disaster, notably in the northern part of the country.

In Rakhine state, the Government provided inclusive training to humanitarian assistance and other service providers, to ensure there was no discrimination against persons with disabilities.  Plans for toilets and schools were reviewed to ensure accessibility.

There were three stages to register and classify persons with disabilities.  As of now, the responsible Government entity had developed a set of questionnaires to classify the degree of disability for persons above the age of 18.  It focused on assessing the functionality of persons with disabilities.  An eight-month pilot project was in place.  Following this pilot project, the Government would continue to work with international partners, including United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, to further implement this classification system in the country.

The lunacy act defined criminal lunacy, but it had been adopted in 1912 during the colonial era.  It was obviously outdated and no longer applied.  There were two ways to make the legal framework free from discrimination: amend the relevant legal documents or repeal them and replace them with modern legislation.  In Myanmar, old laws could only be applied when they were not in contradiction with newer legislation.  The upcoming mental health law would be enacted in the near future.  The delegation would nevertheless apprise relevant ministries of the Committee’s concerns and comments.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said there was room to improve and the delegation was here to improve the situation of persons with disabilities.  He went on to explain that the rules for legislative procedures in Myanmar provided that after receiving input from concerned constituencies and civil society, Parliament debated draft bills, and a back-and-forth with the relevant ministries typically followed.  When the bill was approved by Parliament, it went to the President’s Office

Turning to women with disabilities, he said the delegation was faced with challenges in obtaining the right and necessary answers to the Committee's questions.

The delegation said that the Ministry of Education had put in place a new programme for 2016-2017 that covered equality and non-discrimination, as regarded women and girls.

Sterilization without consent and adequate approval was a criminal offence. Induced or forced abortion was also a criminal act, except for therapeutic abortions.  No forced abortions or sterilizations were allowed, whether they were imposed on women with disabilities or not.

The law on violence against women had been submitted to a Parliamentary committee.  It covered women and girls with disabilities and sought to protect them from violence. 

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office Geneva, said that when the new Government came to power in 2016, it started paying attention to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.   The Department of Rehabilitation had been since then focused on bolstering those rights.  There were still some weaknesses, and some areas required improvements, notably accessibility.  He pointed out that a member of the delegation had faced some accessibility issues here, in Geneva, at the airport.  Even developed countries had to deal with challenges related to accessibility.  Myanmar was determined to overcome such challenges to improve the situation of persons with disabilities.

The Government was planning to put in place measures to ensure easy access to public transportation and it planned to install assistive technologies, such as signs and symbols, at intersections, amongst others.

To foster independent living, the Government had provided assistive devices to 311 adults and 58 children who could not afford them.  The Ministry of Health and Sports had also provided healthcare services to 404 persons with disabilities in 2018.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, explained that when the permanent mission received comments from the treaty body committees, it forwarded them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in turn transmitted them to the relevant Ministry.

The delegation said the Government was developing the Myanmar Development Strategy, which centred on six priority areas, namely education, health, employment, social protection, accessibility, and natural disaster and emergency situations.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, answering questions on measures that had been put in place to protect girls and boys from abuse, explained that in Myanmar a person under the age of 18 years was considered a child.

The delegation explained that there were shelters for victims of trafficking, mainly along the borders, as well as in the former capital.  There were different shelters and training schools for various age groups and the two genders.  Shelters for victims of trafficking could host on average 30 to 50 victims.  All of them were managed by the Ministry of Social Protection.  A new shelter was currently being built in the former capital, and a bigger one would be built with the financial assistance of China during the next fiscal year. 

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, on discrimination against persons with disabilities related to customs, superstitions and related practices, said that this problem was related to awareness issues.  There was no discrimination before the law, which would lead to the absence of discrimination in practice.  Superstitions could be addressed through raising awareness and education.

The delegation said that the Government had been rolling out a new curriculum since 2016.  It prioritized children with disabilities and ethnic cultures and traditions, as well as gender equality through illustrations, poems, songs and sport.

In order to ensure that members of the judiciary and law-enforcement officers understood that persons with disabilities had the same rights as other people, the Government organized workshops on access to justice.

There was a lot of discrimination based on superstition in rural areas, the delegation said.  Efforts were being made to address this situation.

The Government was now providing cash transfers to persons with disabilities, notably those who had been affected by landmines.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that tax exemptions were given to employers who hired persons with disabilities.

Questions by Committee Experts

An Expert asked how access to habilitation and rehabilitation services was ensured in rural areas, in particular for refugees with disabilities.  Could the delegation provide information on efforts to provide equal access to job opportunities in the public and private sectors.  How were organizations of persons with disabilities involved in the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention?  What steps had the Government taken to create an independent monitoring mechanism in that regard?

Another Expert asked for information about access to health services in rural areas.  There were fundamental accessibility issues in hospitals, she said.  Were there, for instance, people in hospitals that could provide information on sexual and reproductive health to deaf people?  Was information available in Braille?  She requested details on the social protection policies that targeted or covered persons with disabilities.  What efforts had been taken to combat extreme poverty?  How many persons with disabilities found themselves in that situation?

Were there accessibility standards for persons with disabilities in all polling booths, such as special voting booths, subtitles or sign language for television, asked an Expert?  What specific measures had been taken to develop sport activities for persons with disabilities. 

An Expert asked about the number of persons with disabilities in formal employment.  In some countries, persons with psycho-social disabilities were exploited.  They needed protection.  He requested information on that matter.

Another Expert asked for information on measures taken by Myanmar to recognise sign language as an official language.  What measures were in place to promote the training programme of sign language interpreters.  What was the timeline to revise the legislation to recognize the right to inclusive education for all children and address overreliance on information education for children with disabilities?  He requested information about plans to take effective affirmative action measures to increase the rate of employment of persons with disabilities.  What was the timeline for the repeal or amendment of the legislation denying persons with disabilities the right to vote and stand for election.

An Expert said that nothing had been said about persons with intellectual disabilities.  Did they get support from the Government?  Did their families get support?  Where did they live?  He asked the delegation to provide information on the situation of persons with very high needs.

What was the Government doing to change the negative image of leprosy and eliminate the stigma associated with it, as well as related discrimination.

Another Expert asked what measures had been taken to ensure community-based rehabilitation.  Did the Government have any specific plans to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.  What measures were in place to utilize the Association of South East Asian Nations’ enabling master plan for the effective implementation of the Convention?

Another Expert sought clarification about so-called “therapeutic abortions”, and the extent to which these were related to disability or impairment.  Could it be performed on a woman without her consent?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said therapeutic abortions could only be legally performed with the consent of the patient.  Further, no one was allowed to perform sterilizations without approval from the patient.  In the case of persons with disabilities, forced abortions were not permitted nor conducted in the country.  When the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother, therapeutic abortions could be performed with the legitimate consent of the patient or the parents.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the delegation included persons from the private sector.  Since 2016, there had been significant developments in the area of the promotion and protection of human rights.  The Government was engaged in international cooperation with other Governments, but also with non-governmental organizations.  Non-governmental organizations enjoyed quite a lot of freedom in the country, he added.

On rehabilitation, the delegation explained that there was a pilot project in urban and rural areas.  The Government was using questionnaires to determine the disability levels for children under the age of three, based on the disability classification and registration system.  There were comprehensive services for the habilitation and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. 

To create better employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, the Government was working with the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disabilities to offer training on the growing of mushrooms and the provision of massages.  Myanmar would receive further financial and technical assistance from the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disabilities, and partner with this organization to create long-term opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Through a “job coaching” programme, 400 persons had received training.  The Government had encouraged business people to provide persons with disabilities with decent work.  Persons with disabilities got almost the same salary as persons without disabilities.  To incentivize companies, the Government granted tax exemptions to companies that employed persons with disabilities. 

On healthcare, the Government said the national health plan covered primary care.  In rural areas, there were health centres providing primary care services.  Persons with disabilities could use the services there free of charge.  

There was a high prevalence of victims of landmine explosions in certain states that were prone to conflict.  The Government provided them with health care services, as well as resettlement- and employment-related support.  The Ministry of Defence, in collaboration with other ministries, was also working on the removal of anti-personnel landmines.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Ministry of Health and Sport had tried to digitalize its systems despite having a very limited budget.  It had distributed tablet computers to midwives, which contained all the medical information, such as information on different types of medication for instance, that they needed for their work.  The tablets were also equipped with GPS, which allowed the authorities to monitor the health workers’ whereabouts.

On leprosy, an association had been formed recently.  Even amongst persons with physical disabilities, they suffered from stigma.  The Ministry of Health and Sports would launch a national strategy for their habilitation and rehabilitation very soon.

The Government had to improve the provision of sign language interpretation, and Myanmar had to produce more sign language interpreters.  There was only one private school that offered training in sign language interpretation in the country.

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that 55.9 per cent of men with disabilities and 49.2 per cent of women with disabilities went to school.  The delegation had heard the Committee’s concern regarding the literacy of blind people “loud and clear” and would convey it to the relevant entities in the capital.

Concluding Remarks

KYAW MOE TUN, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the discussion would contribute to enhancing cooperation with the Committee and help Myanmar take further steps in the right direction.  It was really appreciated.  Human rights in Myanmar could not be realized without achieving the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.  Myanmar had very limited resources but was nevertheless resolute; it would redouble its efforts to improve the situation of more than two million persons with disabilities in the country.

JUN ISHIKAWA, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Myanmar, said the dialogue had been meaningful.  Myanmar had shown significant progress and a forward-looking disposition regarding the promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities.  However, this was the initial stage; continuous and additional efforts were needed.

JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Vice-Chairperson, thanked the delegation, organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society organizations present in Geneva, as well as those watching the webcast.  He expressed hope that the dialogue and the Committee’s concluding observations would prove to be useful in assisting the State party to implement the Convention.
__________

For use of the information media; not an official record
Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr