09.04.2016 Reporting back from week three of the Geneva marathon of Spring 2016

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had constructive dialogues with Slovakia, Serbia, Lithuania and Uganda this week.

The 18 Committee members were briefed before the examinations by organisations of persons with disabilities from those respective countries. CBM supported Deaf Link Uganda to brief the committee on the stigma and discrimination facing Deaf people in the country, especially rural areas – you can see a fantastic new film from the organisation here.  As the Country Rapporteur leading the exam of Slovakia, I had a one-to-one meeting with organisations of persons with disabilities, in addition to the meetings I’d had with them back in September, when we adopted the list of questions to ask the government.  I met some really great self-advocates, as well as some more experienced lawyers and human rights defenders.

I made an opening speech at the beginning of the examination, flagging the slow process of deinstitutionalisation in the country – 39,000 people are living in institutions – the multiple discrimination facing the Roma population, and Roma children placed in segregated schools alongside children with disabilities because the Roma are considered ‘social degenerates’. The Slovakian delegation made positive remarks about plans to change anti-discrimination laws and align the Constitution with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For Serbia, some of the most pressing issues include the lack of employment in the open labour market and the domination of segregated sheltered workshops.

Many questions during the Serbian exam concerned children with disabilities and their lack of inclusion and participation in society. Whilst Lithuania faced tough questioning on the sexual exploitation of children in institutions and Uganda on its mental health laws and discrimination of the LGBT population. On the last day of the week, our Chairperson, Maria Soledad became unwell, so I took over the helm to complete the examination of Uganda. Other highlights of the week included meeting ex-colleague Getrude Feofame from Ghana, who is also running for election on the CRPD Committee this summer, and a very interesting presentation on the “Human rights of older persons and long term care” by the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions. I now crumple with fatigue and rest, in order to resume the race for another two weeks.  

Thanks to the International Disability Alliance (IDA), you can watch all the examinations in the archive ‘CRPD’ at: www.treatybodywebcast.orgincluding in Sign language.  You can also read my tweets @Diane_CBM and see additional content using #CRPD15 and #CRPD. Click on the country links to read summaries of the examinations of UgandaLithuaniaSerbia and Slovakia.