During the 21st Session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee), being held from March 11th to April 5th 2019 in Geneva, the Committee is completing review of the Rwandan government’s report on their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). On March 14th and 15th, the Committee will hold a constructive dialogue with the government. Prior to that, the Committee has met with delegates from Rwandan organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs). The Disability Rights Fund (DRF) supported eight delegates from six Rwandan DPOs to attend this meeting. At the end of these meetings, the Committee will issue Concluding Observations with recommendations for the government of Rwanda to better implement the CRPD.
In preparation for these meetings, Rwandan DPOs drafted and submitted responses to the CRPD Committee’s List of Issues for the Rwandan government and made important recommendations for the Committee to consider in its Concluding Observations. During the meetings, Rwandan delegates have highlighted critical issues, including: the urgent need to review the Law on Persons with Disabilities as well as all other laws that deprive persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities from exercising their legal capacity; the need to ensure persons with disabilities are meaningfully consulted and mechanisms for participation are inclusive of people with diverse impairments, and are age and gender sensitive; the need to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services for girls and women with disabilities in their own communities; and the need for access to sunscreen and other means of protection from skin cancer for persons with albinism. The delegates will also urge the Committee to recommend that the Rwandan Government recognize Rwandan Sign Language as an official language; ensure that anti-discrimination provisions recognize denial of reasonable accommodation as a type of discrimination; and review the disability categorization system to ensure all persons with disabilities have access to social protection and other benefits they need to live a dignified life.
Over the past four years, DRF and its sister organization, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF), have provided financial and technical support to Rwandan DPOs, including for the drafting and submission of an Alternative Report – including a specific report on Equal Recognition Before the Law. DRF and DRAF are proud of our grantees, Rwandan organizations of persons with disabilities, who are ensuring visibility of issues that persons with disabilities face on a daily basis in Rwanda.
The Disability Rights Fund is also thankful for the support of our donors including: The Ansara Family Fund of the Boston Foundation, the Ford Foundation, The Estelle Friedman Gervis Family Foundation, the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and the Foundation to Promote Open Society, part of the Open Society Foundations. DRAF is supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and U.K. aid from the U.K. government (DFID). The views expressed in this communication do not necessarily reflect the official policies of any of our donors, or the governments they represent.