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UN Disability Rights Committee issues findings on Djibouti and France

Blind Man Crossing Road Holding white cane

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has issued its findings on Djibouti and France, the two States parties which it examined during its latest session.

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

The Committee recommended that the State party review its legislation and policies to bring them into line with the human rights model of disability in accordance with the Convention. It urged Djibouti to establish formal and transparent mechanisms to consult with people with disabilities and include them in the implementation of the Convention.

The experts recommended that Djibouti carry out campaigns to empower women and girls with disabilities in all spheres of life, especially in public and political life, employment, education, and health care.

The Committee called on the State party to adopt legal and policy measures to eliminate segregated special education for people with disabilities, and to implement quality inclusive education with particular focus on women and girls with disabilities and children with disabilities in rural areas and in refugee camps.

The Committee expressed concern about the prevalence of medically focused and paternalistic legislation and practices in the State party. Of particular concern is the Act on Equal Rights and Opportunities, Participation and Citizenship for Persons with Disabilities, which predates the Convention and focuses on the prevention of disability and the medical treatment of impairment. The Act sets out a “model of medical-social care” favouring systematic institutionalization on the basis of disability.  The Committee recommended that the State party review existing legislation and policies, and expedite the adoption of measures to give effect to the human rights model of disability that recognises autonomy, equality and freedom in all areas of life.

The experts expressed concern about the devaluing of people with disabilities through ableist policies and practices such as the prenatal genetic screening on foetal impairment, including Down syndrome and autism. The Committee recommended that the State party implement strategies based on the human rights model of disability to eliminate negative stereotypes that belittle people with disabilities.

Different forms of violence and practices continue to impact the physical and mental integrity of people with disabilities in France, the Committee found. These include forced sterilization, forced abortion and non-consensual medical interventions of intersex persons. The Committee also found that practices of solitary confinement, forced medication and the “intensive treatment” including electroconvulsive therapy continue to affect people with disabilities still in institutions, including children and autistic persons. The Committee urged the State party to reinforce mechanisms such as independent monitoring and judicial review to prevent all forms of ill-treatment. It also called on France to end institutionalization and protect children with disabilities who are still in institutions from overmedication.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.

CRPD is due to hold its next session from 7 to 25 March 2022.

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