UN rights expert to assess the situation of persons with disabilities in Zambia

LUSAKA: United Nations Special Rapporteur Catalina Devandas-Aguilar will carry out her first visit to Zambia from 18 to 28 April 2016. She will be examining the situation of persons with disabilities – including older persons, women and children with disabilities – as well as legislation, policies and programs in place for the enjoyment of their rights.

“During my ten-day visit, I will focus on the level of enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities in Zambia, in areas such as social protection, education, mental health, access to justice, and deprivation of liberty,” the human rights expert said.

“Given the current pre-electoral context in Zambia, I am also keen to assess how the right of persons with disabilities to participate in political and public life is being addressed in the electoral process, ahead of the general elections of August,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar noted.

The Special Rapporteur reports to the UN Human Rights Council and advises on the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities word-wide, including by supporting Governments to identify good practices, opportunities, challenges and protection gaps in this area. Her work is guided by the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities* and other international human rights standards.

The expert, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government of Zambia, will meet with government representatives at national and local levels, as well as with organizations of persons with disabilities, other civil society actors, UN officials and international donors. She will visit the cities of Lusaka and Ndola.

“I look forward to engaging with authorities, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations and other actors to better understand how the rights of persons with disabilities are implemented in Zambia, the practical approaches that have been prioritised, and the policies, programmes and decisions that have either helped or hampered the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar explained.

On 28 April 2016 at 11h30 a.m., Ms. Devandas Aguilar will hold a press conference at the Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel in Lusaka to share with the media her preliminary observations on the visit. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council, including her findings and recommendations, in March 2017.

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