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Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stress in dialogue with Ecuador that segregation in education does not work

Committee on the Rights of Persons
  with Disabilities 

30 August 2019

Committee also Raises Questions Regarding the Independence and Participation of Civil Society

The need for inclusive education, notably for persons with intellectual disabilities, was among the issues discussed by Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as it considered the combined second and third periodic report of Ecuador on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Experts asked about persons with intellectual disabilities who went to special schools, highlighting that as they knew, segregation did not work.  After special schools, there would be no special jobs, special communities or a special society for persons with intellectual disabilities.  Why, therefore, was the State party setting them up to fail? The emphasis must be put on inclusive education.

Germán Xavier Torres Correa, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, said that in Ecuador there were 38,446 children and adolescents with disabilities, of school age from three to 18 years, who were included in the national education system.  This represented 58 per cent of children and adolescents with disabilities in the country.  The delegation explained that the Government was also working to remove the barriers and ensure the integration of persons with intellectual disabilities.  It was not promoting segregation in any way.  

Experts also expressed concerns about the independence and autonomy of organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as their effective participation in decision-making processes.  The participation of civil society organizations must be broadened and incentivised rather than hindered.  The existence of a double position, namely Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality and Government Advisor could give rise to a conflict of interest and an imbalance of power.  There was a risk that the Government would infringe on decisions that concerned civil society.  They also recommended that the State party reconsider the inclusion of members of civil society in the delegation in the future.

In his concluding remarks, Amalia Gamio, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Ecuador, profoundly thanked the delegation for the cordial and productive dialogue.  No State party had perfectly and fully implemented the Convention.  The Committee was certain that after this fruitful exchange, Ecuador would do even more to further remove the persisting obstacles preventing the full implementation of the Convention's articles.  She added that problematic terminology had still not been struck from the legislation and guardianship had not yet been removed.

Mr. Torres Correa said that the respect for diversity was a constant struggle to which to Government was committed.  There was still a long way to go, and the Government needed to step things up a lot.  The Government was not working on a welfare-based approach but rather was increasing support to persons with disabilities and their families.  It had been a pleasure to participate in this dialogue and the current Government hoped that it could set an example for the Governments that would follow Jonas Ruskus, Committee Vice-Chairperson, thanked the delegation, the organizations of persons with disabilities, and civil society.  

The delegation of Ecuador consisted of representatives of the National Council for Disability Equality, the Human Rights Secretariat, the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, civil society, and the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 2 September at 3 p.m. to consider the initial report of India (CRPD/C/IND/1 ).

Report

The Committee has before it the combined second and third periodic report of Ecuador (CRPD/C/ECU/2-3 ).

Presentation of the Report

GERMÁN XAVIER TORRES CORREA, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, said Ecuador had led important processes in the region in the field of disabilities.  The Government had carried out the first biopsychosocial, clinical and genetic study on disabilities, which allowed the identification and registration of persons with disabilities in urban and rural areas.  Now, it was carrying out a second phase through an organization called Las Manuelas Mission, which was also responsible for the coordination and articulation of services offered by Ministries.
The latest version of the Organic Law on Disabilities of Ecuador was published in 2012, and its regulations had been updated in October 2017.  Thirty-four affirmative action measures had then been introduced, such as tax benefits, rate discounts, tax exemptions, financial transfers, and scholarships, among others.  

Likewise, the Ecuadorian legislative framework included the enactment of 18 laws with a disability and non-discrimination-based approach, for the respect and exercise of the rights of persons with disabilities.  The National Assembly of Ecuador was examining updates to the Organic Law on Disabilities, put forward by various social sectors, such as the one presented by María Cristina Kronfle, who was a member of the delegation.

The National Council for Disability Equality was responsible for the formulation, mainstreaming, enforcement, monitoring and evaluation of public policies on disabilities.  The Council was made up of 10 counsellors, five of whom represented civil society; they were rights holders who represented the five disabilities recognized in the law: physical, intellectual, auditory, visual and psychosocial.

The Ministry of Public Health was the national authority responsible for the qualification of disability, which involved a process of comprehensive evaluation of the biopsychosocial condition of the person.  In 2017 and 2018, the National Council for Disability Equality, the Ministry of Health, the Academy and the National Federations of and for Disability had worked on the creation of Ecuador’s own instruments for the qualification of disabilities.  The new instrument would become effective as of January 2020.

The Government had achieved the delivery of 58,799 technical aids, and 4,811,160 children had been screened for the early detection of deficiencies, including metabolic, auditory, visual and neurodevelopmental ones.  There were 38,446 children and adolescents with disabilities of school age from 3 to 18 years, who were included in the national education system.  This represented 58 per cent of children and adolescents with disabilities in the country.

Furthermore, the Government was providing 165,290 persons with disabilities with financial transfers and 34,340 persons with social protection services.  On labour inclusion, he pointed out that there were 72,177 persons with disabilities in the ordinary job market.  In 2019, 298,966 persons with disabilities had exercised their right to vote, which represented 75.58 per cent of persons with disabilities registered.

Significant progress had been achieved with regard to access to justice, with the development of the “Routes and Protocols for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”; the "Handbook on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Judicial Function"; and the “Directory of Complexes and Judicial Units” with which 20,459 members of the judiciary and 16,891 officers of the National Police had been trained. 

The Government was also focusing on other areas in which it still had to improve, such as the promotion of productive enterprises; more inclusive cities; improving access to social housing; inclusive risk management; sexual and reproductive rights for adolescents, youth and women with disabilities; life free of violence based on gender, notably; empowering women with disabilities; as well as accessibility to the physical environment, mobility and transport -- for which Ecuador had several projects and actions in execution, some of which had the support of international cooperation.
A delegate added that there was a focus on social actions that took into consideration the collective and individual environment of persons with disabilities, placing them at the heart of society and considering their rights to guarantee their access to services, as well as their liberty and wellbeing. 

Questions by Committee Experts

AMALIA GAMIO, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Ecuador, said it was wonderful to hear about the great progress achieved by Ecuador.  It was equally important to know what had not been achieved for various reasons, as this provided the Committee with tools to assist the State party in fields that were particularly challenging.  Ecuador was making efforts to implement the Convention, but there was cause for concern.  It had not finalized the legislative reforms required to harmonize its legislation with the Convention.  

There seemed to be difficulties with regard to the independence and autonomy of organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as issues related to their effective participation in decision-making processes.  If the role of the National Council for Disability Equality, also known as CONADIS, was to act as a coordinating body as per the Convention, the participation of civil society organizations must be broadened and incentivized rather than hindered.  The existence of a double position, namely Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality and Advisor to the President could give rise to a conflict of interest and an imbalance of power.  There was a risk that the Government would infringe on decisions that concerned civil society.

The dissolution of the Technical Secretariat for the Inclusive Management of Disabilities had proven counterproductive as some programmes had disappeared.  Sign language was still not recognized as an official language.  It was also preoccupying that there had not been an effective adaptation of the processes and the humanitarian assistance services for asylum seekers with disabilities.

She recalled that the Committee had adopted last year a General Comment on articles 4.3 and 33.3 which clearly stipulated that States parties should pay heed to the opinions of persons with disabilities, notably as expressed through organizations of persons with disabilities.  It also stated that it should support capacity building in such organizations as well as their empowerment.

What bills or laws regulated matters related to sign language in Ecuador, asked an Expert?  Were there organizations of deaf persons that were involved in the training of sign language interpreters?  Were there deaf experts that participated in the elaboration of a sign language certification?

Another Expert asked about the number of women with disabilities who were on the national council for gender equality.  What progress had the Government made in matters related to the prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities.  She requested information on measures that had been adopted to harmonize the National Programme for the Equality of Persons with Disabilities 2017-2021 with the Convention.  How many awareness-raising campaigns had the Government launched?

An Expert asked about the measures taken by the Government to promote a positive image of persons with disabilities.

Another Expert asked for information on the evaluation of disabilities in the country.  Had there been progress in achieving accessible tourism?  If so, had persons with disabilities been involved in the process that had led to this outcome?

One Expert enquired about the guarantees that existed, as well as about the sanctions imposed on public and private entities to ensure accessibility.  How were media outlets regulated with regard to accessibility?

Replies by the Delegation

A delegate, describing herself as a representative of civil society, said there were five representatives on the National Council for Disability Equality, each representing a different disability.  Social organizations had a greater space under this Government.  A decree which limited the activities of non-governmental organizations had been repealed.  Civil society now had a greater participative reach. 

The plenary of the National Council for Disability Equality had decided to create commissions, including one on social protection.  

A number of standards had been reformed, including some that were enshrined in the organic law on disabilities.  There were consultative councils made up of persons with disabilities.  There was a structure that had been put in place so that persons with disabilities could be brought closer to the decision-making processes.

She recalled that the National Council for Disability Equality did not have civil society participation in the past.  The process through which civil society representatives were appointed to this body was open and competitive.  The voices that were now heard on the National Council for Disability Equality represented not only the representatives themselves but also persons affected by various kinds of disability.

The organic law on disability was incompatible with the Convention, and that was why the Government was carrying out reforms.  A lot of procedures had been streamlined.

The Government had issued a new disabilities evaluation handbook, which had been developed with the active participation of civil society.  It listed different types of disabilities, such as physical, intellectual or auditory, aiming to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

On the participation and protection of girls and adolescents, measures had been put in place this year to guarantee that all children, including those with disabilities, would be able to grow up in a safe and protected environment.  The Government was attending 33,944 persons with disabilities.  About 50 per cent of them were women.  It worked very closely with their caregivers, ensuring that they had better access to education and training.  There was a programme aiming to bolster productive skills.  

Another programme provided caregivers with training.  There were local networks for women with disabilities that sought to help these women fulfil their potential.

The Government also fostered learning opportunities and encouraged the participation of girls and women in all education programmes.  There were about 4,000 women enrolled in specialized education programmes.  In collaboration with student council bodies, amongst others, the Government had managed to identify persons who had fallen out of the education system.

In one of the Government’s strategies, which was gender sensitive, there was a guide on persons with disabilities’ sexual rights, as well as their right to live free from violence.  

The delegation explained that 44 per cent of persons with disabilities who were registered with the Government were women, totalling 217,000.  The Government had provided care to 4,095 women in 2007 and to 8,302 between January and July 2019.

The organic criminal code established as a criminal offence the abandonment of children with disabilities.  This was in line with the Constitution of Ecuador that stipulated that the best interest of the child would always prevail.
This year, the Government had achieved the creation of a database on the care provided to women who had suffered from abuse and ill-treatment.  The Government had also fostered positive parental care by giving priority to harmony and good treatment through a programme on positive parenting.  It targeted the most vulnerable families with a focus on positive practices and had reached about 433,000 families.

GERMÁN XAVIER TORRES CORREA, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, said the definition of disability was based on various criteria.  Ecuador recognized various kinds of disabilities, such as physical, intellectual, psychosocial and auditive, and it worked on the basis of degrees or percentages of disability.  This determined the level of support offered by the Government.  This characterization had helped the Government differentiate between the different types of care it provided.  The psychosocial disability, which used to be defined as a “mental” disability, was now better addressed. 

While some parents considered that autism was a disability, others did not.  The Government was currently examining various instruments that could allow an identification and diagnostic of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

The system of information on human rights, called Si Derechos, would be consolidated to help advance the cause of human rights.  It facilitated decision making and monitoring of reparations given in cases of violations.

The Ombudsperson had handled more than 4,000 complaints from persons with disabilities and other priority groups.  It had developed mobile units that provided care to people who could not move or travel.

There were also offices of defenders that had been established in rural areas to work on human rights-related issues, attending to over 125 persons with disabilities in 2018.
There were 3,982 girls with disabilities; 120,000 adult women with disabilities; and over 56,000 older women with disabilities.

There was a document on communication and journalism for equality, seeking to promote respectful non-discriminatory communication activities.  The Government had encouraged private communication companies and media outlets to communicate in a manner that was not discriminatory.

GERMÁN XAVIER TORRES CORREA, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, said the Technical Secretariat had a mandate to promote policies on disabilities.  Policies continued to be implemented with the contribution of the wife of the President.  Under those standards, work was continuing and in no way had policies been affected.

The Government had always sought to respect Ecuadorian sign language.  Logically, sign language required recognition from the community.  The National Council for Disability Equality had called for a formal recognition.  However, launching a constitutional amendment process would take time.  When it was launched, the National Council for Disability Equality hoped that the change would be done swiftly, in the most efficient way possible.

The National Council for Disability Equality, aiming to ensure the full inclusion of the deaf community, had created a campaign called “Certify as a Sign Language Interpreter”.  The objective was to regularize the work of experienced sign language interpreters; 154 persons had been certified in that context.  There were now recognized institutions that provided training in sign language interpretation and the first cohort would graduate in 2020.

Without all the outreach work carried out by the Government, perhaps the citizens of Ecuador would not have elected a president with a disability, Lenin Moreno.

The Government had created a guide on accessible tourism, he added.  Ecuador had various accessibility standards, including on the physical environment and access to information and communication.  

A delegate explained that civil society was not disconnected from the decisions taken by public bodies, quite to the contrary.  Freedom of association was guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Follow-Up Questions by Committee Members

A Committee Expert asked what measures were in place to ensure accessibility to all legal proceedings, as well as physical accessibility to courts, police stations and other similar buildings.  What was the Government doing to provide community assistance services so that persons with disabilities could live in the place of their choosing?

What progress had been made to strike terminology that could be demeaning towards persons with disabilities, asked another Expert.  On confinement, what was the State doing to ensure that, in line with the Convention, people would not be confined because they were disabled or deemed unable to stand trial?  He requested information on legal assistance provided to persons with disabilities.  Was it free of charge, or at least affordable?

An Expert commended the quality of the responses to the list of issues.  What plans were in the pipeline to improve the situation in the fields of justice and law-enforcement with regard to the rights of persons with disabilities.

Another Expert asked what steps the State party had taken to publicize the CONADIS protocol on human rights violations.  She requested information on the conditional cash transfer of $ 240 intended to improve the quality of life of “persons with very serious disabilities who are in a critical socioeconomic situation and need assistance with everyday activities”.  Could the delegation provide information demonstrating that $ 240 was sufficient to meet the needs of these people?  She requested more information on steps taken to ensure the active involvement of persons with disabilities in the design, implementation and monitoring of laws concerning them.

Could the delegation provide more detailed information on the substance of the proposed civil code amendments as well as on the related timeline, asked an Expert.  Did the State party intend to adopt a human rights-based approach to mental health care?  He requested information on the situation of refugees with disabilities, notably as regarded to lack of shelter.  How did the State party ensure their rights to safety and accommodation, those of women and girls in particular?

An Expert asked for information on the accessibility of airports.  He sought clarification on cases of forced sterilization and asked how the State party would make sure this practice was completely banned.

What was the country doing to rescind guardianship laws, asked an Expert?  The delegation did not talk about persons with intellectual disabilities.  Could the delegation provide information on their situation, including their number?

Follow-Up Answers by the Delegation

GERMÁN XAVIER TORRES CORREA, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, thanked the Committee members for their questions.  The answers that had been provided so far had been transparent.  He expressed hope that all members of the Committee would have all the information they needed by the end of the dialogue.  The delegation and the Government had been working with representatives of civil society, both here in Geneva and in Ecuador, he added.

A delegate, responding to questions on access to justice, explained that Ecuador had undertaken a series of reforms, including a shift from traditional paradigms and practices.  The change had been particularly important in the judiciary.  Training programmes had been launched for members of the judiciary such as judges.  Approximately 5,000 civil servants had been trained in that context.  The Government had also developed a protocol on the arrest and detention of persons from priority care groups as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  It had trained over 16,000 law enforcement officials on that matter.  A video on the rights of persons with disabilities had been created and made available in sign language. 

In 2019, a number of judicial surveys would be conducted, and additional sign language interpreters would be certified.  Written statements and statements delivered by sign language interpreters were allowed in courts for certain persons with disabilities.  Closed-circuit television and other technological tools were used to guarantee persons with disabilities’ rights within the judicial system.  Over 100 rooms had been created to register testimonies of persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities.

The comprehensive organic criminal code provided for alternative detention measures for persons with disabilities; preventive detention could be replaced with house arrest under certain conditions.

Turning to involuntary or forced treatment, the delegation explained that the Ministry for Public Health had adopted a comprehensive approach for the deinstitutionalization of persons with disabilities.  It had achieved the reinsertion into society of over 2,000 patients that had been institutionalized.  Physical and social reinsertion measures were provided to them.  Measures were also in place to help patients transition back into family environments and address addictions.  Community-awareness measures had been taken to foster community support and bolster support networks.  
The Ministry abided by the principle of prior and informed consent and put in place various measures to prevent the involuntary treatment of persons with disabilities.  In 2017, the Government had reviewed the law that addressed the detention of persons with disabilities that had been deemed unfit to stand trial.

A manual on sexual and reproductive health had been devised.  It had been provided to 19 bodies around the country to ensure that healthcare service providers had the technical wherewithal to foster public health with a human rights-based approach; met the needs of the population; and fostered the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents.

In order to provide greater protection, visibility and access to justice, the Ministry of Education did not focus on punishment when addressing violence in educational contexts.  A protocol had been established for the provision of care in the event of peer to peer violence and sexual harassment.  Work had been carried out to strengthen inclusive education.  Programmes had been put in place to foster student participation and democracy in decision-making processes.  

To prevent sexual violence, measures had been taken to foster dialogue on sexuality amongst students.  In 2019, nine professionals had been hired to roll out a new methodological approach in that regard.  In the last quarter of 2019, the Government would carry out a study on the root causes of violence in the education field.  The Government had also signed agreements to develop international cooperation related to the promotion of peaceful and harmonious coexistence.

The Government was implementing public policy so that the most vulnerable segments of the population benefited from social protection.  The Government had put together an action plan for the 2017-2021 period that would address poverty and inequalities.  This plan would recognize individuals as rights holders and would be rolled out through various “missions”, including one which would work on the rights of persons with disabilities, seeking to strengthen their capacity.  The Government would seek to address the reproduction of “circles of poverty” from one generation to the other.

The disability policy was human rights-based and considered that persons with disabilities contributed equally to society.  It aimed to ensure the protection of dignity, centred on the person as a rights holder, and sought to foster capacity-building in communities and families as a means of ensuring inclusion.  The Government considered that care in the home and in the community was an appropriate modality for the provision of services to persons that would not have been able to reach institutions that provided services.

The social inclusion of persons with disabilities required outreach and advocacy to ensure the accessibility of rights.  The Sub-Secretariat on Disability recognized disability as a component of human diversity.  

The Ministry of Inclusion and the Inter-American Bank for Development had implemented a project to create and support networks to encourage community inclusion, with an approach that took into account the various dimensions of the persons within their biopsychosocial environment.

On human mobility, a delegation recalled that the Constitution guaranteed that foreigners had the same rights as Ecuadorians.  It recognized the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees.  There had been a large influx of migrants due to the situation in Venezuela.  The largest influxes had occurred at the northern border with Colombia.  The Government had coordinated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that all migrants entering the country could exercise their rights.  A protocol had been implemented to ensure the appropriate provision of services to girls, boys and teenagers on the move, so as to guarantee their rights, in line with international legislation.  The Government also promoted their social and cultural integration.

The delegation clarified that Ecuador was aware of the difference between formal equality and real, effective equality.  The enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities was a double path.  Being aware of one's rights was not enough; one had to also be able to exercise them.  There was an article of the Constitution that clearly stipulated that international instruments like the Convention were directly applicable in the country.  In other words, any citizens could invoke them and ask that they be applied.  

In the event of doubt with regard to the scope of legal provision, as per the organic law on disabilities, the laws had to be applied in a manner that would be most beneficial to persons with disabilities.  Lower ranking laws could not be drafted in a manner that was not compatible with the Constitution.  There were legal measures in place whereby persons, including civil servants, who discriminated against an individual on the basis of disability, were punished.

Questions by Committee Members

An Expert said that persons with intellectual disabilities had poor health outcomes.  How was the Government addressing this issue, notably in rural and remote areas?  He asked how the Government ensured that persons with intellectual disabilities could take part in recreational activities.  He noted that the delegation had talked about the situation of persons with Down syndrome, but what about persons with other intellectual disabilities?

Another Expert requested information to make TV programmes, websites and films accessible.  Were public websites fully accessible?  On inclusive education, the legislation seemed very advanced, and yet very few children with disabilities were enrolled in mainstream schools.  Could the delegation provide the Committee with an analysis of this matter?  Why was the State party not promoting inclusive education?  He asked what measures had been taken to elaborate text in digital or Braille format and hire professors that mastered sign language.  How was the Government addressing bullying?

An Expert asked about measures put in place to ensure that complaints about violations of the rights of persons with disabilities were addressed in an independent manner.  Was the Government considering reinstating the powers of the Ombudsman in that regard?  He said the inclusion of a high-ranking member of civil society was problematic.  The assessment of the situation in Ecuador provided by civil society organizations that had not been included in the delegation differed significantly from that proffered by those that were.  He recommended that the State party reconsider the inclusion of members of civil society in the delegation in the future.

Another Expert asked about measures that had been put in place to promote the employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector.  He also requested statistics on this matter.  He commended Ecuador for taking a strong initiative to promote the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.  He asked the delegation to provide information on how the State party was implementing it, effectively, in the country.

AMALIA GAMIO, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Ecuador, requested information on the use of the funds that had been allocated to the Ministry of Education by the Inter-American Development Bank.  What had that money been used for?

Another Expert asked about persons with intellectual disabilities who went to special schools, underlining that such segregation did not work.  After special schools, there were no special jobs, special communities or a special society for them to transition to.  Why, therefore, was the State party setting them up to fail?  The emphasis must be put on inclusive education.

JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Vice-Chairperson, sought clarification regarding the inclusion of intellectual and psychosocial disabilities within the certification mechanism.  He noted that corporal punishment was not prohibited in the State party, and there were reports that it was still being used, including as a sentence in indigenous communities.  What steps was the State party taking to fully protect children with disabilities from violence, including at home and in indigenous communities.

Answers by the Delegation

A delegate representing civil society within the delegation said that the Committee’s remarks and questions on civil society underestimated civil society’s ability to critically assess the content of the report and influence policy-making.  The representative of civil society that was included in the delegation had been chosen by civil society.  

Furthermore, civil society had played a pivotal role in decision-making in Ecuador, especially under the current Government.  The Government had opened up decision-making processes and fostered an inter-sectoral dialogue to deal with issues that had been overlooked or put on the back shelf.  The Committee’s comments were underestimating civil society, she reiterated.  Civil society could make critical comments and act as a co-creator of solutions.

On inclusive education, the Government had provided assistance to over 300 persons who needed special care within the education system.  It was looking at their background and would ensure that they were ready before reintegrating them in the mainstream system.  Training was also provided to teachers so that they could better cater to the needs of vulnerable groups. 

The Government was also working to remove barriers and ensure the integration of persons with disabilities.  The Government was not promoting segregation in any way.  The model used in Ecuador involved families and communities.  It also promoted the acquisition of “life skills” as they were essential.  The Government mobilized the teaching staff to promote technical training for persons with disabilities, such as training in tourism and agriculture to foster the development of vocational skills.

The delegation said that within the framework of Ecuador’s education policy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, civil society and families were broadly involved.  By involving them, the Government implemented a “co-responsibility” approach to promote the quality of life of persons with disabilities.

The social protection policy focused on persons in poverty.  About 34 per cent of the people that benefited from services in that framework were in rural areas.  The Government promoted policies that upheld equal opportunities for all Ecuadorians, including the segments of the population that required special care and were most vulnerable.

A reform was being examined to prohibit corporal punishment against children and adolescents.  The indigenous community valued a ‘deconstruction’ of its practices when it came to corporal punishment.  The indigenous community lived mainly in rural areas of Ecuador.

GERMÁN XAVIER TORRES CORREA, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, said that, out of the 52,000 persons with disabilities that were employed, there were 73 and 27 per cent of them working in the private and public sectors, respectively.

He added that the State did not intervene in civil society; the federations and associations had their own statutes and their own internal management system.  All civil society organizations managed their internal conflicts themselves. 

He pointed out that the delegation of Myanmar had also included a representative of civil society in its delegation.  As a former Committee member, he believed that the State and civil society had to work and find solutions together.

Concluding Remarks

GERMÁN XAVIER TORRES CORREA, Government Advisor and Chair of the National Council for Disability Equality of Ecuador, said that the respect for diversity was a constant struggle to which the Government was committed.  There was still a long way to go, and the Government needed to step things up a lot.  The Government was not working on a welfare-based approach and must increase support to persons with disabilities and their families.  It had been a pleasure to participate in this dialogue and the current Government hoped that it could set an example for the Governments that would follow.

AMALIA GAMIO, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Ecuador, profoundly thanked the delegation for the cordial and productive dialogue.  No State party had perfectly and fully implemented the Convention.  The Committee was certain that after this fruitful exchange, Ecuador would do even more to further remove the persisting obstacles preventing the full implementation of the Convention's articles.  She added that problematic terminology had still not been struck from the legislation and guardianship had not yet been removed.

JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Vice-Chairperson, thanked the delegation, organizations of persons with disabilities, and civil society members present in Geneva, as well as those watching the webcast.

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For use of the information media; not an official record
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