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Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities examines the report of South Africa

GENEVA (29 August 2018) - The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of South Africa on measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Introducing the report, Susan Shabangu, Minister of Social Development of South Africa, said that since the ratification of the Convention in 2007, and within the confines of a challenging economic climate and competition for resources, South Africa had made steady progress towards the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities, including through the updating of the national disability policy with the white paper on the rights of persons with disability, which put an emphasis on embedding disability inclusion within government-wide regulatory, planning, resourcing, programming, and reporting systems.  More children with disabilities were enrolled in ordinary schools than in special schools, and the South African sign language had been introduced as a language of instruction in all schools for deaf learners in 2015.  Measures to address the unacceptable levels of violence, abuse and periodic neglect that learners with disabilities were exposed to in some of the boarding facilities at special schools were being adopted, and a robust and inclusive public dialogue on assisted decision-making had started with the recent conclusion of a report on the issue by the South African Law Reform Commission.

Committee Experts recognized the tremendous improvement in the situation of human rights in South Africa, the entrenchment of disability in chapter 2 of the Constitution, and the adoption of the comprehensive white paper on the rights of persons with disabilities.  It was a matter of concern however, that it still remained only a “white paper” – as with most other policies, guidelines and frameworks, it had not resulted in meaningful legislation that would enable persons with disabilities to seek redress in courts.  Legal capacity was still denied to persons with disabilities, in particular those with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities, and there was no mechanism for supported decision-making.  South Africa had ratified the Convention in 2007 and it could speed up things and do better in its efforts to improve the situation of persons with disabilities, Experts remarked.  The key problem was the right to education, with more than half a million children with disabilities currently outside the education system, and the right to inclusive education not protected by law.  Violence, abuse, and bullying of children with disabilities in school hostels continued.  Experts were concerned about the situation of women and girls with disabilities, particularly black women and girls, who suffered intersectional discrimination on the basis of disability, gender and race, and faced violence on a regular basis.  

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Shabangu said that the Committee’s recommendations would strengthen the action for persons with disabilities and reiterated the commitment to ensure that - with all resource constraints - all its people were treated equally.

Danlami Umaru Basharu, Committee Rapporteur for South Africa, concluded by expressing hope that very soon, South Africa would be a country where all its persons with disabilities, especially women, children, persons with intellectual disabilities, and persons with albinism, lived in an accessible society devoid of obstacles in every manner of life, that truly reflected the goals and objectives of the rainbow nation.  

Theresia Degener, Committee Chairperson, acknowledged South Africa’s incredible leadership in human rights and urged it to also take a lead in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The delegation of South Africa was composed of the representatives of the Department of Social Development, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Department of Health, Department of Basic Education, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Statistics South Africa, Gauteng Department of Economic Development, and the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today, 29 August to start its consideration of the initial report of Algeria (CRPD/C/DZA/1).

Report

The Committee is considering the initial report of South Africa (CRPD/C/ZAF/1).

Presentation of the Report

SUSAN SHABANGU, Minister of Social Development of South Africa, at the outset, paid homage to the substantial role of representative organizations of persons with disabilities in ensuring the South African Government’s accountability in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Recalling the legacy of the founding father of South African democracy, Nelson Mandela, particularly in laying the foundation of the disability inclusive society, the Minister said that the Constitution had laid a set of socio-economic rights that guaranteed a life in dignity for all its citizens and laid an obligation of the Government for the progressive realization of those rights.  The Constitution had established independent institutions accountable to Parliament, which had the power to investigate and report on the observance of human rights and take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights had been violated.  Referring to the unacceptable loss of lives of persons with psycho-social or intellectual disabilities in the so-called Life Esidimeni tragedy, the Minister reiterated South Africa’s commitment to ensuring that all those found guilty, including public officials, faced the full consequences and might of the law.    

Since the ratification of the Convention in 2007, and within the confines of a challenging economic climate and competition for resources, South Africa had made steady progress towards the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities.  A comprehensive disability-disaggregation of the National Development Plan had been concluded in 2014 to inform disability inclusive planning, the 2015 study into the elements of cost of disability to households was currently informing social protection reforms, and the national disability policy, the white paper on the rights of Persons with Disability and its implementation matrix, had been updated in 2015, putting an emphasis on embedding disability inclusion within government-wide regulatory, planning, resourcing, programming, and reporting systems.  As such, the white paper constituted an important step towards the domestication of the Convention.  In 2017, the Statistic Disability Committee had been established, and a Disability Inequality Index was being developed to track progress in reducing inequality between persons with and without disability, disaggregated by gender.

The imperative in South Africa was that one child left behind was one child too many.  There were currently more children with disabilities enrolled in ordinary schools than in special schools, while 814 ordinary schools were being transformed into full-service schools that provided high levels of support to learners with disabilities.  South African sign language had been introduced as a language of instruction in all schools for deaf learners in 2015, and over 80,000 primary school teachers had been trained to accelerate the implementation of the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support Policy which directed the planning and budgeting of reasonable accommodation support to learners with disabilities.  Measures were being put in place to address the unacceptable levels of violence, abuse and periodic neglect that learners with disabilities were exposed to in some of the boarding facilities at special schools.  

The South African Law Reform Commission, continued the Minister, had recently concluded a report on assisted decision-making, which represented the start of a robust and inclusive public dialogue on the issue.  The next Medium Term Strategic Framework (2020-2025) would ensure equitable programmatic disability inclusion targets and would embed disability mainstreaming in all administrative systems.  South Africa was also in the process of finalizing a series of national frameworks to guide the implementation of the disability rights policy, including on universal access and design, reasonable accommodation, and disability rights awareness campaigns, and was in the process of ratifying the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a demonstration of a commitment to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

Questions by Committee Experts 

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Rapporteur for South Africa, noted the tremendous improvement in the situation of human rights in South Africa, in particular the entrenchment of disability in chapter 2 of the Constitution and the efforts to align the concept of disability with the human rights model of disability in the national legislation.  Commending the adoption of a very comprehensive white paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015 as a step towards realizing the rights of persons with disabilities, the Rapporteur noted with concern that it still remained only a “white paper”, as did most other policies, guidelines and framework that had never resulted in meaningful legislation that would enable persons with disabilities to use them to seek redress in courts.

The Rapporteur also raised concern about the situation of women and girls with disabilities, particularly black women and girls, who faced double discrimination and faced violence on a regular basis.  Children with disabilities formed the majority of children in institutions and special school hostels, and were also left out from the education system, especially in rural areas.  Recalling the Esidimeni tragedy in which 144 persons with intellectual disabilities had lost their lives due to neglect, lack of care and the absence of a system to monitor such institutions, the Rapporteur lamented that perpetrators had not yet been brought to book and that a mechanism to prevent such tragedies in the future had not been established.  Therefore, it was imperative for South Africa to take immediate measures to address grave violence and abuse against women and children with disabilities, and adopt a national strategy for the deinstitutionalization of children with disabilities.

Other Experts asked to what extent, the ratification of the Convention had been instrumental in ensuring respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities in all sectors of society, and how receptive communities were towards persons with disabilities.  What was being done to protect persons with albinism from violence and discrimination?

Experts also took note of the continued challenges in fully implementing the Convention in South Africa and asked how disability issues were being integrated into socio-economic development programmes and initiatives.  What measures were in place to protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women with disabilities?  What tailored services were offered to children with disabilities placed in institutions, particularly those under the age of six?

The delegation was asked about accessibility of the capital, its airport, hotels, public transport, and State offices, and whether any complaints had been filed for the inaccessibility of the public transport system and ATM machines.  Was universal design mainstreamed in training curricula for engineers and architects?

Experts stressed that persons with disabilities must know about their rights and how to speak for themselves and asked whether representative organizations of persons with disabilities were involved in awareness training for the media, public officials and the judiciary.

Was the deinstitutionalization process moving forward, and how?  What measures were being implemented to protect children with disabilities from corporal punishment and to expedite the prohibition of corporal punishment in private settings?  What were the concrete strategies to ensure compliance with the Convention in the norms and practices concerning incarceration, particularly to prevent the incarceration of persons with disabilities based on negative attitudes, and myths or superstitions about disability?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked the delegation to explain the disability assessment process, noting that the process was necessary to confer benefits but could also limit rights.  Was it human rights based, in line with the Convention, and how were persons with disabilities involved in designing the process?  Also, what measures were in place to ensure that disability was mainstreamed in the response to gender-based violence and to provide support for women with disabilities who experienced violence.  What was being done to ensure the security of women with disabilities in institutions?

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Rapporteur for South Africa, asked about the training provided to public officials on the human rights-based approach to disability, and the efforts to promote the concept of reasonable accommodation among the private and public sector, to ensure its application at all levels.

Responses by the Delegation

Responding, the delegation reiterated that South Africa remained perpetually embarrassed by the loss of lives at Esidimeni and would remain vigilant to ensure that such a tragedy never happened again.  The delegate recalled that following the tragedy, the Government had mandated Health Ombud to conduct an in-depth investigation, and had accepted his reports and recommendations, including concerning disciplinary and other actions against officials involved.  The Government was closely working with the police to ensure it had all the necessary information, which had resulted in 144 dockets, 45 of which were inquests and 99 inquiries.  Further to the Obmud’s recommendations, the Government had asked the South Africa Human Rights Commission to undertake a systematic and systemic review of the violations related to mental health.  Legal proceedings would be taken against various non-governmental organizations involved in the tragedy, the delegate continued, noting that of the 27 organizations involved, 14 had been closed to date, and that in March 2018, the national guidelines for licensing procedures had been gazetted.  The compensation to families and others persons affected had been paid out in June 2018.

The white paper alone would not be able to domesticate the Convention, recognized the delegation, noting that it was just the first step in that process.  South Africa was now engaging with the Ministry of Justice to implement the auditing of the legislation to identify gaps.  Also, due attention was being paid to mainstreaming disability, an approach South Africa preferred over simply “boxing disability in just one corner”.  

The month from 3 November to 3 December had been declared the Disability Awareness Month, and the Government was working with civil society organizations and regional and other government institutions to develop the concept for this celebration.  There was ongoing collaboration with the South Africa Broadcasting Company to ensure that disability issues were present in the media, and a dialogue with others to understand how awareness on disability rights should be conducted.

With regard to reproductive health and rights, there were two pieces of legislation, including the 1998 Sterilization Act, which were strongly underpinned by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  They protected the physical integrity of persons with disabilities and ensured that they exercised their sexual and reproductive rights as far as possible.    

There were ongoing discussions with the South Africa Human Rights Commission concerning mandating it as an independent monitoring mechanism for disability rights.  The delegation stressed that the Commission was an independent institution under Chapter 9 of the Constitution, which was accountable to Parliament, and the role the Government could play was very limited, as it could not interfere in the work of the Commission, including in the important area of monitoring disability rights.

The Ministry of Justice had recently introduced the hate crime and hate speech bill, currently before Parliament, which addressed hate crimes against persons with albinism.

Recently, South Africa had declared early childhood development as a public good, and was taking it seriously.  The policy and programmes included all children in the country, including those with disabilities.  The first 1,000 days were very important in terms of a child’s development and his or her readiness for formal education.  The National Development Agency was recognizing the work of Early Childhood Development Centres throughout the country and awarding the most successful ones on an annual basis.  Provinces had received 800 million Rand from the central Government to develop and maintain infrastructure for young children.  Efforts were ongoing to develop closer cooperation between early childhood development and basic education, to ensure a smoother transition from early to primary education.

The approval of the South Africa Sign Language had been a long process, a delegate said, noting that both houses that formed Parliament had approved it as the twelfth official language.  The new disability policy contained a roadmap on mainstreaming universal design in public procurement systems, and work was ongoing on developing standards and on efficient enforcement mechanisms.  

The airports had very high standards for accessibility, not only for wheelchair users but for other types of disabilities as well.  The Department of Transport was currently engaging with various airlines to address the gaps identified by the recent study into accessibility, and it was working on ensuring the accessibility of public transport systems.  The rapid bus transport system in cities had strict accessibility standards it had to comply with.  National building regulations were being reviewed, with particular focus being paid to enforcement mechanisms.  The national parks, particularly the Kruger National Park, had on their websites readily available accessibility information for visitors.  

Universal design training for built environment professionals was not mandatory at the moment, but there were a few institutions that were doing it voluntarily and testing various programmes.  The focus also needed to be on the already trained professionals and on developing and continuing education programmes on the subject.

There was currently no standardised disability assessment and different processes were being conducted based on the type of disability.  Health assessments were conducted for the purpose of providing assistive devices and accommodation, which was a mix of self-declaration and a medical model.  The entire approach to disability assessment was currently under review.

The delegation explained that deinstitutionalization had been articulated as a reason for the setting up of the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project, where the Esidimeni tragedy had happened.  There had been requirements that the deinstitutionalization of mental health users - the term used in South Africa law – must be done through structured community-based projects and services, however, following the Esidimeni tragedy, the Government had issued a directive to all communities to stop the deinstitutionalization projects and activities until further notice, and it was working with the Health Ombud on this issue.  

One of the major challenges in the quest to equalize opportunities and ensure that persons with disabilities were a part of the South Africa agenda, was gender-based violence.  In an effort to address the problem, the Government had set up the so-called gender-based command centre to provide support to victims of gender-based violence, a practice which had received international recognition.  The initiative, however, had not provided for deaf victims of gender-based violence, so the authorities were working with Vodacom to provide technology to facilitate access for women with disabilities.

Questions from the Experts

In the next round of questions, Committee Experts asked about steps taken to align the Disaster Management Act of 2000 and other laws on disasters, risk and humanitarian emergencies with the Convention, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Charter on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action.  What was being done to ensure that equal protection and services was provided to asylum seekers with disabilities regardless of the type of impairment, origin, gender and other characteristics?
 
The legislation in South Africa, including the Mental Health Act, still denied legal capacity to persons with disabilities, and in particular to persons with intellectual disabilities.  What were the outcomes of the review of the legislation in respect to legal capacity, and the progress of the legislation on supported decision making?

A Committee Expert inquired about legislative or policy measures to implement the concepts of procedural accommodation and age appropriate accommodation, and to empower persons with disabilities to be employed in the justice system.  What was the intention concerning the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and what measures were in place to protect persons with disabilities from torture and ill treatment?

In its development efforts, South Africa could do better for persons with disabilities, an Expert remarked and wondered why South Africa had not adopted a strict timeline for the development of a national strategy and legislation on independent living.  South Africa had ratified the Convention in 2007, with its initial report due in 2009.  It was possible to speed up things, the Expert concluded.

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Rapporteur for South Africa, asked about the non-governmental organization registration process and the concrete measures to prevent abuses and cruel treatment of persons with disabilities – including corporal punishment against children with disabilities - in the home and school settings.

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked the delegation to provide data on how many people had been able to restore their legal authority and be taken off legal guardianship since the ratification of the Convention, and how many programmes on supportive decision-making had been set up.  Had any programmes been set up to provide persons with disabilities in the criminal procedure system with reasonable accommodation?  Since the ratification, had there been an increase or decrease in the number of forced treatments of persons with disabilities?

Responses by the Delegation

In the next round of responses, a delegate emphasised that South Africa, a developing country, had inherited a fragmented system and had to embark on the process of unifying the country and building a strong people-centred public service accessible to all South Africans irrespective of colour and creed.  The Committee should not lose sight of the fact that South Africa was still a developing country with two economies, one with the vulnerable majority living in poverty and the other, the minority, living at the level of developed nations.

The Disaster Management Act had been amended to include consideration for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable categories, and there would now be self-representation in advisory processes and planning, in line with the Sendai Framework.

The South Africa Law Reform Commission had recently issued a report which proposed a complete overhaul of the system of legal capacity for people with an impairment or disability and had also proposed the adoption of supported decision-making.  The critical issue with the legal reform was to create a platform for public engagement on all issues that had been raised in this dialogue with the Committee.  Law reform was a very robust process in which the Government was seeking input from all stakeholders.

Commenting on the position of persons with disabilities in the justice system, the delegation said that South Africa had adopted amendments to the criminal law, which introduced greater protection for persons with disabilities and children.  A law had also been adopted which had set up a juvenile justice system for children in conflict with the law, including children with disabilities, which protected the children in the criminal justice process.

There had been an upsurge in reporting crimes against persons with disabilities, not only in South Africa but in neighbouring countries as well.  South Africa was actively working with other States in the Southern African Development Community region to actively address the problem.  Activities undertaken aimed to raise awareness on albinism, focused primarily on schools and communities, and the authorities were working hard to ensure swift arrest and prosecution of all those accused of crimes against persons with disabilities.

The Constitution was very explicit in condemning and prohibiting torture and ill-treatment, to which, for historical reasons, South Africa as a country was very sensitive.  The Prevention of Torture Act had been adopted in 2013, and South Africa would ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and was now working on the structure and capacitation of the national preventive mechanism.  Children with disabilities, in particular those with intellectual disabilities, were often incarcerated in back rooms of homes, a delegate said, although such treatment was prohibited.  The Children Act contained specific measures for the identification of and support for such children.

South Africa was a signatory to both the African Union convention on refugees and the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the socio-economic rights of all refugees were guaranteed.  The Government was taking seriously its obligations under the Convention concerning independent living and assisting persons with disabilities in living in communities.

The national health insurance aimed to provide access to quality health services for all, regardless of an individual’s financial abilities, and it included persons with disabilities.  One area that it prioritized was the provision of assistive devices.  In line with the white paper and the Sustainable Development Goals, South Africa was striving to transform its national health insurance into universal health coverage.

Questions from the Experts

Continuing the dialogue with the delegation of South Africa, Committee Experts recognized that South Africa protected the right to basic education, including for children with disabilities, but not the right to inclusive education.  South Africa had committed to ensuring that by 2021 no child would be left behind and that education would be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children, however, significant disparities between provinces remained in services provided to children with disabilities.  Another Expert asked what was being done to address the situation of more than half a million children with disabilities currently outside of the education system?  What support mechanisms were in place for children with disabilities who did not complete basic education within the legal age limit?  How was a transition from the school system into work or further education for students with disabilities being achieved?

What measures were in place to ensure the full and productive employment of persons with disabilities to ensure a decent living, and to make the open labour market accessible to persons with disabilities and specifically to phase out the so-called “protective workshops”?  

A coherent disability policy without reliable data was not possible – what was being done to ensure the availability of timely and high-quality data disaggregated by income, gender, ethnicity and geographic location.  How had the available data and statistics resulted in policies and legislation for persons with disabilities?

The delegation was asked about the participation of and consultation with representative organizations of persons with disabilities in the drafting of laws and policies, and particularity how organizations of the deaf had been involved in all the public consultations and decision-making concerning the recognition of South Africa’s sign language.  Experts also asked about steps taken to make available public information in easy read for persons with intellectual disabilities, and to improve health outcomes for persons with intellectual disabilities, especially those living in institutions, and to explain why it still maintained laws that allowed the forced sterilization of children with disabilities, in direct violation of the Convention.  How was a human rights based approach to health for women with disabilities ensured?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, said that the biggest problem South Africa was facing in implementing the Convention was the right to education.  What were the plans concerning the implementation of the recommendations that the Committee on the Rights of the Child had issued in 2016; the adoption of a law on inclusive education and the increase of resources allocated for inclusive education; and addressing violence, abuse and bullying of children with disabilities in school hostels.

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Rapporteur for South Africa, asked about the status of the Copyright Act and the intention concerning the ratification of the Marrakech Treaty.  If South Africa was asked to make three key commitments to persons with disabilities, what would those be?

Responses by the Delegation

With regard to inclusive education, a delegate stressed that everyone had a constitutional right to basic education, and this included children with disabilities.  The South Africa Schools Act 1996 contained a provision that clearly stipulated that a child with special needs had to be admitted to a school in his or her neighbourhood; if that school was unable to provide adequate support and quality education to the child, an assessment would be undertaken to identify barriers to education and provide adequate placement in an educational institution.  Special schools were therefore not the first port of call for the education of children with disabilities, who would first be admitted to mainstream schools and placed in special school only if additional support needs were identified.

A number of inclusive education policies had emerged from white paper 6 on education, such as on the policy on screening, identification, assessment and for early intervention, and a policy on reasonable accommodation for children with disabilities, while a learning programme for children with severe intellectual disabilities had been developed.  Also emerging from the white paper 6 were the guidelines for resourcing an inclusive education system that had been developed to address disparities across the nine provinces.

Collaboration between different departments and agencies had been set up to look at ways and means of identifying the out-of-school children with disabilities and improve the quality of data on this group of children, to enable the appropriate intervention.  Children with disabilities usually exited the education system at the end of grade nine while an exit qualification was obtained at the end of grade twelve.  To address the challenge, South Africa had been working on diversifying curriculum offerings and learning pathways, and now offered two additional learning pathways, the technical vocational and technical occupational trainings, which were more attractive for children with disabilities.  Also, an exit qualification for those two pathways would be issued at the end of grade nine, to enable the learners – including children with disabilities – to seek jobs.

The national framework for reasonable accommodation was being developed and would hopefully be approved by end of this year, which would open up the process of drafting the minimum norms and standards, which would be done in collaboration with both service providers and representative organizations of persons with disabilities.

In terms of the employment of persons with disabilities, the delegation said that the policy on the transformation and management of protective workshops had been in place since 2008, and was currently being reviewed in light of the Convention and the white paper on the rights of persons with disabilities.  

The National Development Plan was aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, and beyond 2030, and it aimed to end poverty in all its forms, end hunger, and reduce inequalities.  All policies went through a socio-economic assessment process to minimise possible negative consequences and ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in particular.    

The right to vote of every adult citizen was guaranteed by the Constitution, while membership in Parliament could be limited for those declared by a court to be of “unsound mind”.  Candidates did not compete individually for Parliamentary seats, thus, it was a matter of incentivising political parties to include a greater number of persons with disabilities on lists of candidates.  The right to accommodation was a justiciable right, defined by the Children Act which guaranteed all children access to shelter and services.

As a State party to the Convention, South Africa worked with persons with disabilities and funded their representative organizations, and also supported other civil society organizations which provided services to persons with disabilities.  Social assistance cash payments were being phased out towards payments through the post office.

Concluding Remarks

SUSAN SHABANGU, Minister of Social Development of South Africa, in her concluding remarks, said that South Africa was looking forward to the Committee’s recommendations which would strengthen the action for persons with disabilities.  With all resource constraints, South Africa was striving to ensure that all its people were treated equally.

DANLAMI UMARU BASHARU, Committee Rapporteur for South Africa, said that this had been a very rewarding and sincere dialogue, which would hopefully translate into positive action in the lives of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.  Inclusion, consultation and participation were the essence of the Convention, thus persons with disabilities must have a seat at the table where decisions about their lives were made, and must be included at all stages of policy and law-making, implementation and monitoring.  Education for persons with disabilities was the key concern in South Africa, which should increase the budget for inclusive education at all levels.  South Africa should further ensure that the national budget was inclusive of disability matters across all ministries, and that persons with disabilities had full access to education, employment, health, and social protection.  Many laws still needed to be brought in line with the human rights model of disability, and a number of policies and frameworks should be swiftly put into legislation.  South Africa would hopefully soon be a country where all South Africans with disabilities, especially women, children, persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with albinism, lived in an accessible society devoid of obstacles in every manner of life that truly reflected the goals and objectives of the rainbow nation.  

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the very constructive dialogue and acknowledged the country’s incredible leadership in human rights.  With leaders such as Nelson Mandela and others, who influenced not only the continent but the world, South Africa should also take a lead in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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