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UN disability rights committee publishes findings on Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Sweden and Zambia

27 March 2024

GENEVA (27 March 2024) - The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) today issued its findings on Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Sweden and Zambia, after reviewing the seven States parties during its latest session.

The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as positive aspects. Key highlights include:

Azerbaijan
The Committee noted with concern that the provisions of the Constitution exempt persons with disabilities from enjoying rights and duties due to disability. The Committee was also concerned that derogatory concepts and terminology continue to be used in laws and policies, emphasising the impairments of persons with disabilities. The Committee recommended that Azerbaijan integrate the human rights model of disability into its laws, regulations and policies, harmonising its Constitution and legal and policy framework on disability. It also asked Azerbaijan to complete the process of repealing all sections of legislation, policies, and regulations that use derogatory concepts and terminology.

The Committee observed that there is an absence of close consultation and active involvement of persons with disabilities in the development of legislation and policies and in monitoring the implementation of the Convention. It called on Azerbaijan to set up formal mechanisms to ensure close consultations and the active involvement of persons with disabilities through their representative organisations in national, district and municipal public decision-making processes.

Bahrain
The Committee voiced its concerns over a number of persons with disabilities arrested and sentenced to long prison terms of up to life imprisonment for expressing their political opinions. It urged Bahrain to respect the right of persons with disabilities to exercise their freedom of expression and not to be harassed and arrested for their political views. It also asked the State party to provide information about persons with disabilities in prison.

The Committee questioned the lack of information regarding women with disabilities who have been subjected to abuse and violence. It also expressed concerns about the lack of legislative measures to protect women with disabilities from all forms of violence. The Committee called on the State party to review the Protection against Domestic Violence Act (No. 17) of 2015 and include provisions guaranteeing full protection of girls and women with disabilities from violence, and access to protection and rehabilitation programmes for violence victims.

Costa Rica
Concerning the lack of accessibility to health services for persons with disabilities, in particular the shortage of medical equipment, facilities and inadequate furniture, the Committee called on Costa Rica to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to quality health services with equipment adapted to the specific requirements of different types of impairment. The Committee was also concerned about the insufficient inclusion of persons with disabilities in sexual and reproductive health programs and services. It asked Costa Rica to guarantee persons with disabilities full access to all health programs and services, including sexual and reproductive health and those related to HIV/AIDS, especially in rural areas and at community levels.

The Committee voiced concerns about the high level of unemployment among persons with disabilities and the lack of information on the measures adopted to encourage the private sector to generate more employment for persons with disabilities. It called upon Costa Rica to adopt effective measures to guarantee the right to work of all persons with disabilities and combat discrimination, particularly in job advertisements and recruitment processes. It also recommended that Costa Rica establish specific incentives to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the private labour market. The Committee also suggested affirmative measures, such as subsidies, to promote self-employment opportunities.

Kazakhstan

The Committee noted with concern that children and adults with disabilities are institutionalised in residential and semi-residential care facilities, such as baby homes, and lack interaction with the community, including members of their families. It recommended that Kazakhstan end all forms of institutionalisation, and ensure that persons with disabilities, including those with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, can exercise their right to choose their place of residence and decide where and with whom they live and access support to live in the community.

The Committee expressed concerns over restrictions on marriage for persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities in the Marriage and Family Code, as well as barriers for persons with disabilities to exercise their autonomy regarding the number and spacing of children. It asked Kazakhstan to repeal provisions in the Marriage and Family Code that restrict the right to marry of persons with disabilities and develop and provide age-appropriate reproductive and family planning information and education for persons with disabilities.

Nicaragua 
The Committee regretted that Nicaragua did not send a delegation to participate in the public review and did not provide written replies to its list of issues and questions. In the absence of a delegation, the Committee proceeded to consider Nicaragua’s initial, second and third reports and adopted its findings according to its rules of procedure.

The Committee was concerned by the forced closure of at least 212 civil society organisations working for women’s rights, including women with disabilities, between 2018 and 2022. It also reflected concerns about at least 7,000 cases of attacks against women human rights defenders, including women with disabilities, who are considered to act against the State party. It urged Nicaragua to restore legal personality to human rights defenders’ organisations, repeal any legislation that discriminates based on political opinions, and take action to protect human rights defenders, including those with disabilities, and ensure that they have access to effective remedies.

The Committee noted with grave concern that women detainees with disabilities might have been subjected to assaults and sexual violence in detention centres, while other women with disabilities, particularly with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, are locked up and isolated in their homes and exposed to physical violence and verbal abuse. It asked Nicaragua to establish a monitoring mechanism to prevent aggressions and sexual violence in detention centres and strengthen measures to combat violence against children and women with disabilities, particularly in the home, both in urban and rural areas.

Sweden
The Committee raised concerns over the lack of opportunity to apply for personal assistance for persons with disabilities over the age of 66 and the variation of personal assistance between municipalities. The Committee was also disturbed by the increased rates of institutionalisation for children and adults with disabilities. It called on Sweden to ensure consistent access to individualised personal assistance and support to all persons with disabilities, including the 1500 persons with disability who lost personal assistance in the years between 2015 and 2022, and those over the age of 66. It also asked Sweden to take immediate action to develop and implement a national deinstitutionalisation strategy.

The Committee found that in many areas of Swedish law, there is a gradual return to the medical model, which focuses only on impairments and does not include the societal barriers that lead to disability. It recommended that Sweden harmonise the definition of disability in laws and policies with the human rights model of disability and revise the definition as the result of the interaction between impairment and socially constructed barriers.

ZAMBIA
The Committee was deeply concerned about the attacks, mutilation, abduction and murder of persons with albinism. It urged Zambia to take immediate and urgent legal and policy measures to protect persons with disabilities and persons with albinism from abduction and murder, and to ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice.

Concerning the persistence of discriminatory attitudes, negative stereotypes, and prejudices towards persons with disabilities, the Committee recommended that Zambia adopt a national strategy to raise awareness of and combat prejudices against persons with disabilities. It also called on a specific public education programme to address myths around albinism so as to protect persons with albinism from becoming targets for ritual attacks.

The above country review findings, officially known as Concluding Observations, are now available on the session page.

The Committee also held public follow-up dialogues on inquiries related to Spain and the United Kingdom, respectively, and adopted follow-up reports that will become available in due course during April 2024.

For more information and media requests in Geneva, please contact:
Vivian Kwok at [email protected] 
UN Human Rights Office Media Section at [email protected]

Background
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities monitors States parties’ compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which to date has 191 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

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