CHISINAU / GENEVA (17 September 2015) – United Nations human rights expert Catalina Devandas-Aguilar on Thursday called on the Moldovan Government to accelerate efforts towards the inclusion of all persons with disabilities in the country.
“The Republic of Moldova needs to focus on changing the outdated medical perceptions on disability in society, which permeate the design and provision of services for persons with disabilities, to make sure that inclusion and participation becomes a reality,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar said at the end of her first official visit* as the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The expert observed many positive initiatives, such as law no. 60 on social inclusion of persons with disabilities adopted just two years after the country ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the country’s effort on implementing inclusive education systems.
“In inclusive education I believe that the right elements are in place: focus on quality, individual learning plans, dedicated support staff, and a clear funding structure with coordination and accountability between central and local levels of administration,” she stated.
The Special Rapporteur also called the Government’s attention to the need to include all children with disabilities in these efforts: “Children who are deaf, those with psycho-social or intellectual disabilities, girls and Roma children with disabilities; no-one should be left behind,” she said.
Ms. Devandas-Aguilar shared alarming findings on persons with disabilities in institutional settings, including residential psychiatric facilities and the so-called ‘neuropsychological internats’, calling for an end to institutionalization.
“I am appalled by what I have seen in these institutions,” she noted. “Children and adults with disabilities are locked up – sometimes for their entire lives – in unimaginable conditions; neglected and treated in inhuman ways. They have almost no contact with other people.”
“I have received several allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse perpetrated in these institutions. These cases need to be investigated and their perpetrators must be brought into justice,” the Special Rapporteur stressed. “The Republic of Moldova needs to take immediate action to close these institutions, starting with those where children reside, and guarantee effective access to justice and remedies for those whose rights have been violated therein.”
During her eight-day visit, the independent expert also visited the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova. She met with the de facto authorities and visited two institutions and a rehabilitation centre for children and youth with disabilities.
“I will look forward to continue engaging with the authorities, organizations of persons with disabilities and other actors to build an inclusive and accessible society that upholds the rules of democracy, equality of opportunity and human rights for all,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar said.
The Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2016.
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16441&LangID=E
Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar (Costa Rica) was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Devandas Aguilar has worked extensively on disability issues at the national, regional and international level with the Strategic Partnerships with the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, the UN unit responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Bank. Her work has focused on the rights of women with disabilities and the rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disability/SRDisabilities/Pages/SRDisabilitiesIndex.aspx
Check the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/ConventionRightsPersonsWithDisabilities.aspx
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