IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Urges States to Adopt Measures to Better Protect and Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

December 1, 2017

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9000
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. – On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on December 3, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reiterates its commitment to the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the IACHR urges Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) to adopt effective policies and mechanisms to guarantee the direct participation of persons with disabilities in all the processes that involve them.

Over the years, the IACHR has addressed the situation of special vulnerability that persons with disabilities face in the Americas and, through its various mechanisms, has reiterated to States their duty of special protection of this group. The Commission has noted that among the multiple challenges faced by the persons with disabilities are a failure to recognize their legal capacity; a lack of access to justice; a shortage of community services to enable the integration of persons with disabilities into the community; the lack of adequate health, training, and rehabilitation services; the lack of reasonable accommodations; the difficulty of access to education and work; and limited political participation; among others.

Based on the aforementioned, as well as the need to promote the effective enjoyment of the human rights of persons with disabilities, in March 2017, after a broad process of public consultation with civil society, experts and States, the IACHR approved its Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, through which it identified as a priority issue the situation of the human rights of persons with disabilities. This decision was followed by the creation of the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, announced in May, and the appointment of Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva as its first Commissioner in charge.

“The new Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will enable IACHR to advance in the effective defense and protection of the rights of this historically discriminated and invisibilized group,” said Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva, in charge of the Thematic Unit. “The IACHR’s success will largely depend on the participation of the persons with disabilities, and other relevant actors, who will be able to contribute in the process of creation and design of plans of work, which later will be implemented for the new thematic Unit,” added.

With this measure, the Commission aims to make visible the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in the Americas, ensure the effective defense and protection of their rights through the various mechanisms of the Inter-American System, and identify synergies and new opportunities that help to advance in the construction of robust inter-American standards, as well as promote policies and practices that guarantee the exercise of human rights on the basis of equality.

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Inter-American Commission ratifies its commitment to the defense, protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the region, and takes advantage of this opportunity to call on all Member States of the OAS to join efforts to achieve societies free from discrimination on the basis of disability, and to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the effective protection of their rights and their full inclusion and integration within their societies.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 195/17