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COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES CONSIDERS INITIAL REPORT OF EL SALVADOR

6 September 2013

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today completed its consideration of the initial report of El Salvador on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Victoria Marina Velasquez de Aviles, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, introducing the delegation, said that El Salvador appreciated the work of the Committee and looked forward to discussing the country’s commitments and challenges.  El Salvador was a party to a number of human rights instruments and, among other measures to improve care provided to persons with disabilities, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAIPD) had been established.  There was a clear interest in El Salvador to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.

Presenting the report of El Salvador, Juan Jose Garcia, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, said that the Government had created a National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAIPD) and was considering the withdrawal of reservations to the Convention.  Consultations with persons with disabilities had underpinned the development of a number of national policies and strategies with a focus on community development and rights had been implemented.  Much remained to be done in order to advance the implementation of the Convention, particularly regarding the areas of normative development and access to justice.

German Xavier Torres, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of El Salvador, welcomed the intention of El Salvador to withdraw its reservations to the Convention and highlighted the need to ensure that domestic legislation integrated international commitments for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.  Mr. Torres also inquired about the budget dedicated to people with disabilities and the function of the National Council (CONAIPD).  Among other measures, Mr. Torres highlighted challenges related to public transportation, education, awareness raising, increased support for civil society, and accessibility, particularly in rural areas.

During the discussion, Committee Experts welcomed the Government’s intention to withdraw its reservations to the Convention and called for the removal of legislative obstacles to the implementation of the Convention and to ensure that domestic norms, including the Constitution, were aligned with international commitments.  Experts expressed concerns about the situation of persons with disabilities in relation to access to basic services, education and employment, women and other vulnerable groups, access to justice and discrimination.  Experts also stressed the need to strengthen civil society participation and the role played by organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as the need for an independent body to monitor the implementation of the Convention.    

Mr. Garcia, speaking in concluding remarks, recognised that domestic legislation should take the Convention into account and recalled that a judicial working group had been set up to address this particular issue and to ensure that the relevant codes and legislation were in line with the Convention.

Ronald McCallum, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee, before closing the meeting, thanked the delegation and said that it had been a very special dialogue.

The delegation of El Salvador included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Secretariat of Social Inclusion, the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the UN Office at Geneva, and the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAIPD). 

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 12 September, at 10 a.m. to discuss its methods of work with States parties to the Convention.

Report of El Salvador

The initial report of El Salvador on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be found here: (CRPD/C/SLV/1).

Presentation of the Report

VICTORIA MARINA VELASQUEZ DE AVILES, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that El Salvador appreciated the work of the Committee and the delegation looked forward to discussing the country’s commitments and challenges.  El Salvador was a party to a number of human rights instruments, and Ms. Velasquez de Aviles was certain that recommendations had fallen in fertile ground and the respect for the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities was an ethical imperative.  El Salvador, while submitting the Universal Periodic Review, extended a standing invitation to all special procedures so that they were informed of the challenges to human rights in El Salvador, as well as efforts underway.  Among other measures to improve care provided to persons with disabilities, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAIPD) had been established; similarly, the contribution from the Secretariat for Social Inclusion was also worth mentioning.  Before introducing the delegation, the Permanent Representative stressed that there was a clear interest in El Salvador to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.

JUAN JOSE GARCIA, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, providing an overview of the general framework in El Salvador, noted that a five-year development plan 2010-2014 had led to the creation of a universal social protection system which aimed at providing basic services to all, prioritising those facing poverty and vulnerabilities; and the presidential programme of main rights sought to contribute to improve the living conditions of elderly people.  One of the main objectives of this period had been to promote a process of institutional and structural change, which was democratic and sustainable, and that included persons with disabilities to promote equitable access to development opportunities and poverty reduction.  El Salvador had undertaken a number of public policies for social inclusion and social participation.

In 2010, the Government had re-structured the axis of disability-related policies by creating the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAIPD), integrated by Government and civil society representatives almost at a parity level.  Regarding efforts towards inclusion, consultations with persons with disabilities, including women, men, boys, girls and young people, had taken place in the context of national policies on youth, women, and for the protection of children and adolescents.  A national inclusive education policy had been adopted by the Ministry of Education and the University of El Salvador.  El Salvador counted for the first time with a sexual and reproductive health policy, which included a human rights framework and addressed the particular needs of persons with disabilities. 

Equality and anti-discrimination legislation promoted the rights of women with disabilities and inclusion, as well as the obligation to eliminate discriminatory attitudes.  In the context of the national plan of accessibility, efforts had been made to improve infrastructure and to remove barriers impeding personal mobility.  Additional efforts sought to improve public buildings, websites and communications.  El Salvador had undertaken the revision of public information tools, including emergency monitoring and shelter management related to risk situations and humanitarian emergencies.  Progress had also been made in the field of communications, including with the provision of sign language training for young people and interpretation and subtitles for presidential messages.

Health reform emphasis was on the person, the family and the community, and it promoted the participation of social actors.  Habilitation and rehabilitation services were available for persons with disabilities in different areas.  El Salvador had also implemented strategies with a focus on community development and rights, including a participation and social inclusion-based approach to disability.  A process had been started for the incorporation of persons with disabilities into the labour market, and for the sensibilisation of key stakeholders and the creation of a propitious environment for the fulfilment of equal opportunities legislation. During 2012-13 labour inspectors had been trained concerning the rights of persons with disabilities. 

Much remained to be done in order to advance the implementation of the Convention, including additional normative development, for example, regarding the penal, family, civil and notary codes in order to bring them in line with the Convention.  Access to justice for persons with disabilities was also pending and the Committee’s recommendation would contribute to promote normative changes in the context of the legislative and judicial bodies.  A national policy on persons with disabilities would be in place this year, with a human rights approach and moving beyond medical and assistance-based approaches.  Finally, Mr. Garcia noted that El Salvador had begun the internal process towards the withdrawal of its reservations to the Convention.

Questions and Comments by the Rapporteur and Committee Members

GERMAN XAVIER TORRES, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the Report of El Salvador, welcomed the intention of El Salvador to withdraw reservations to the Convention and highlighted the need to ensure that domestic legislation was capable of integrating international commitments concerning the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.  It was not quite clear what the function of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities was and Mr. Torres also inquired about the Government’s budget dedicated to people with disability.  The focus should not be only on poverty reduction but on the full enjoyment of rights.  Measures concerning public transportation, public education and access to media seemed to have been implemented in some areas but not in rural areas.  Accessible transport was vital to ensure that persons with disabilities had access to services. 

Fines for those who failed to employ persons with disability were low and additional education and awareness raising for society in general were necessary.  Noting that civil society played an important oversight function, it should be strengthened and additional support should be provided to this end.  The shadow report presented by civil society representatives showed they were clearly interested in participating.  Training for teachers and additional facilities, particularly in the context of inclusive education, were also needed.  Regarding the deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities, steps for their full inclusion and rehabilitation should be taken, perhaps in partnership with civil society.

Committee Experts highlighted the need to review domestic legislation, including the Constitution, with a view to ensuring compliance with the Convention and international commitments.  For example, the law of equal opportunities did not mention inclusion.  There need to provide reasonable accommodation was not mentioned and the failure to do so had to be recognised as discrimination.  Experts welcomed the intention of El Salvador to withdraw the reservations to the Convention currently in place.  What efforts had been undertaken to promote and raise awareness regarding the existence of the Convention, particularly in rural areas and among indigenous communities?

Reportedly, there had not been meaningful consultations with persons with disabilities’ organizations in the development of instruments.  What would be done in order to ensure consultations with these organizations in the future?
Concerns were also expressed about the lack of frank and open consultations with stakeholders, and about the use of language, for example that described mental disabilities, which could be considered to be pejorative. 

How far had plans advanced towards the adoption of legislation which would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, including the recognition that failure to ensure accessibility constituted discrimination and the establishment of provisions to ensure access to remedies in cases of discrimination.  Were these sanctions, such as fines or other penalties, provided for designs or construction in violation of accessibility standards?  Experts also requested additional information concerning the removal of barriers in existing public buildings, such as historical monuments.

Experts also inquired about measures undertaken regarding training on ‘universal design’. Was training on ‘universal design’ with a view to improving accessibility being provided to architects and engineers, as well as to IT engineers with regards to communications?  What role was played by organizations of persons with disabilities in efforts to ensure accessibility and were there any links with professional organizations, for example, architects, engineers or designers, to this end? 

Did the police count with proper tools to ensure direct communications with victims, for example, in the case of persons with disabilities who required additional assistance such as sign language interpretation?  It seemed that little was being done to remedy the situation of women with disabilities, who had virtually no access to the labour market.  Women also faced particular restrictions in the context of sexual and reproductive health.  Little information about the situation of indigenous women and girls with disabilities had been provided and it seemed that much more work needed to be done in this area. 

A range of recommendations had been made by the Committee on the rights of the child, including for a registry for children with disability, which apparently still did not exist.  The Committee had also identified negative attitudes towards children with disabilities as well particular challenges they faced regarding access to education.  How were these recommendations being taken into account and implemented?

Reports from organizations of persons with disabilities said that the general population did not have access to clean water and that this situation was worse among persons with disabilities and, in particular, in remote areas.  What was the Government doing to ensure equal access to clean water and sanitation, health and other facilities for persons with disability?  This issue was about reasonable accommodation, non-discrimination and accessibility, but also about the value of independent organizations documenting the situation.  In this regard, how was the Government supporting independent organizations of persons with disabilities and making it possible to collaborate with the authorities?

What paths enabled persons with disabilities in indigenous and rural areas to participate?  For examples, did the national commission count with representatives from these areas?  When would the next census take place and how would it deal with persons with disabilities?  The report had noted the need for legal harmonisation, including the civil, family and notary codes, there were currently many legal disqualifications affecting persons with disabilities. 

Sexual abuse against women and girls with disabilities was also of concern.  What efforts were being undertaken in terms of legislation by the Parliament and Government to eliminate this problem?  It had been reported that visually-impaired persons were not allowed to adopt children, was this correct?

One of the root causes of discrimination was indeed within the Constitution itself; were there any plans in the near future to amend the parts which discriminated against persons with disability?  Was there any formal engagement between the Government and an umbrella organization representing persons with disabilities.  It seemed that most initiatives had been launched in the capital city, were there any plans to expand their reach outside the capital?  Civil society had reported that only the capital city had improved accessibility in public transportation.

Response by the Delegation

JUAN JOSE GARCIA, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, responding to the questions posed by Committee Experts, welcomed the positive responses to El Salvador’s statement concerning the withdrawal of the reservations to the Convention.  Concerning the legislation with regards to the provision of care for persons with disabilities, Mr. Garcia highlighted that El Salvador was governed by the rule of law and it recognised the separation of powers underpinning the rule of law.  There was legislation which was not fully in line with the Convention, for example, electoral laws.  There were also Constitutional obstacles to the implementation of the Convention, as it had been recognised by Committee Experts.  The delegation had taken note of these difficulties and they would be submitted to the legislative assembly to ensure that it could assume its historic role, bearing in mind the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

Regarding the problem of violence again women and girls and, in particular, against those with disabilities, El Salvador did not want these cases to remain unpunished and the cases would be referred to the relevant bodies.  Progress had been made with regards to women and girls who had been victims of violence.  Legislation had been passed to establish the right to a life without violence, or the right of women to a violence-free life, including policies targeting prevention, care and reparations.  The specific crime of femicide had been established, as well as aggravating circumstances in the case of underage victims and victims with disabilities.  Steps had been taken thanks also to the struggle of women’s organizations who had provided efforts to combat violence and impunity.

For a long time El Salvador had not only rendered persons with disabilities invisible, but had also failed to create an infrastructure that facilitated their access to services.  This Government, since 2009 had introduced public policies that incorporated and mainstreamed persons with disabilities, including with regards to urban infrastructure and transportation.  There was real political will to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, particularly in urban areas, and accessibility criteria had been included in planning in order to cater to persons with disabilities.  The need to guarantee access in rural areas remained a challenge and the delegation had taken note of this specific concern, and people in rural areas were still at a disadvantage.  In the educational system progress had also been made towards inclusivity and, while these programmes were in pilot phases, the Government believed it was heading in the right direction.

The first steps were being taken to address a problem that had been overlooked for many years and remained invisible.  Experts had criticised the medical definition of discrimination and raised questions about data-gathering.  The last census, in 2007, had recorded 4.7 per cent of the population suffered from a disability, and the next census would be carried out in 2017.  Efforts had been made to identify the location, living conditions and needs which were useful for the Government to adopt a useful approach.  The national council hoped to establish a psychosocial system in order to get a better picture concerning living conditions, and El Salvador was receiving support from Ecuador in this context.   The Government sought to establish a human rights-based model and it would be the product of wide-ranging consultations at the initiative of the national council.

A number of questions had addressed the participation of civil society and associations of persons with disabilities in the design of policies and programmes to ensure a human rights approach.  Previously, El Salvador has seen very low social participation but efforts had been made to increase participation in public policy, for example, the restructuring of the National Council (CONAIPD) which sought to include a greater number of representatives of other stakeholders.  The Ombudsman Office was also working to promote social dialogue and had enabled progress to be made, as well as raising the profile of the needs of persons with disabilities, and to ensuring that society as a whole not only was more aware but participated more actively.  Social participation remained a challenge, but constructive dialogue and constructive criticism around these issues were part of the national development and the strengthening of democracy. 

The delegation highlighted the importance of a human rights-based approach, based on a deep respect for the human rights of the population and persons with disabilities, as well as the many practical measures which needed to be implemented.  The situation of indigenous people also remained pending and there was much more to be done.  El Salvador was working in this regard and the delegation was certain that progress would be achieved.  There were individuals who had been sentenced for femicide and this illustrated how impunity was being combated.  While these efforts might not appear as amounting to much, El Salvador was proud of its efforts and felt that it was on the right path.

Questions by Committee Experts

Experts asked about adjustments made to procedures and court processes to ensure that persons with disabilities had full and unfettered access to justice.  Reports about the criminalisation of persons with disabilities who were confused or assumed to be part of criminal gangs had been raised.  Experts were concerned that certain officials, including those tasked with carrying out the investigations, might not be adequately trained to understand the needs of persons with disabilities for specific assistance.

Experts also referred to a case where a person with an intellectual disability who had been victim of rape had been denied access to justice because the judge questioned her credibility.  Preventive detention centres should be reviewed in order to ensure that persons with disabilities deprived of their liberty did not suffer from violations.  There was a history of persons with disabilities being denied the right to provide evidence in court and to ensure their dignity and human rights it could be necessary to ensure the free presentation of evidence. 

Experts noted that corporal punishment for children was not prohibited in all settings, notably at home and care settings, and urged El Salvador to ensure its full prohibition in all settings.  Experts also requested additional information regarding warning and other information systems addressing the needs for persons with different disabilities in the context of environmental and other emergencies, such as tropical storms.

What was the Government doing to raise awareness among all actors in the legal system, at both national and local levels, to ensure that persons with disabilities had access to justice and that perpetrators were appropriately sanctioned.  It was not so that it was natural for lawyers, judges or juries to understand the nature and realities of persons with disabilities, training was necessary to avoid wrong decisions.  Experts also called on the Government to move beyond the guardianship model and to ensure that the legal capacity of persons with disabilities was respected.  

How many people with disabilities were living in institutions and what kind of support would be needed at the community level to ensure that those who wished to leave the institutions were allowed to do so.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation highlighted a number of measures for the protection of children, including a global information system which contained data about boys and girls with disabilities enrolled in assistance programmes.  Shelters for women with disabilities, training for the prevention of violence, and qualified staff for the provision of victim support were also available.  The Health Ministry also provided assistance to victims of violence in general.  Regarding questions on corporal punishment inflicted on boys and girls with disabilities, the criminal code established prison sentences for infractions against minors, and ill-treatment against girls, boys and adolescent was explicitly prohibited.  The National Council for Children and Adolescents had recorded a high number of cases related to physical violence and an awareness raising campaign had been implemented. 

Concerning questions about institutions, the delegation noted that 62 children and adolescents were currently in public institutions; and measures to improve infrastructure and training had been implemented.  Additional activities, such as horse riding had been introduced and improvements in the physical and emotional conditions of children had been observed.  Over 300 adults, with different levels of independence, were currently housed in a public institution which provided a human rights-based care, legal protection, as well as psychosocial and spiritual aspects.  A number of activities and services were provided in order to ensure holistic care, including, nutrition, occupational therapy, and a number of manual activities.  Concerning independence and autonomy, it was important to take into account the persons with disabilities themselves, as well as their families and environment.  Rather than addressing ‘independence’ theoretically, the delegation reflected on the personal experience of persons with disabilities and the way in which they had achieved independence.

In the field of access to justice, efforts had been made to improve the situation for persons with disabilities, including training for relevant officials and courses on human rights and protection for persons with disabilities.  The Prosecutor’s Office had also organised specialised courses and an event on the labour rights of persons with disabilities.  Additional training provided in curricula developed for relevant actors included modules on disability and on human rights and criminal investigation, including with a focus on protection.  There were plans to implement awareness programmes in schools and activities with legal and administrative personnel.

Experts had referred to cases of violence, abuse of authority and ill-treatment by security officers.  The delegation had no information suggesting that this was an institutional practice of law enforcement agencies, but recognised that an isolated case had been registered, in which an individual with a hearing-impairment had been confused with a gang member.  Preventive measures had been taken and training curricula for law enforcement officials contained a human rights module with reference to the situation of persons with disabilities.

Responding to questions about sign language and access to justice, the delegation indicated that courts could determine the necessary measures to ensure access to justice including requesting sign language interpretation.  Concerning the legal capacity of persons with disabilities, Latin America had been known for making persons with disabilities rather invisible and, as mentioned by the delegation, for 60 years that had been the policy of the Government in El Salvador.  The new Government wanted to ensure that persons with disabilities were fully integrated into society, and civil society had also undertaken efforts to this end, including the necessary legislative measures in line with international commitments.

Questions by Committee Experts

Experts noted that there was still no independent monitoring body at the domestic level on the implementation of the Convention.  When would such a body be established and how would persons would disabilities be allowed to contribute?  Experts also expressed concern about the situation of migrants.  El Salvador was a country of origin and transit and migrants with disabilities could be injured or migrants could be injured during their journey.  What measures were being taken to provide support to persons who had become disabled or injured in this context and to facilitate their reintegration into society? 

What was the Government doing to ensure access to clean water and sanitation to persons with disabilities, in particular in rural areas?  What steps were being taken to ensure that all persons with disabilities had access to social protection, especially children, and regardless of whether they were veterans of armed conflict?   

Experts also recalled concerns about the need to reform domestic legislation, including the Constitution, to ensure compliance with international commitments.  How many persons with disabilities were currently deprived of their right to vote by electoral laws?  Regarding those persons with disabilities who did have the right to vote, what measures were being taken place to ensure they were capable of participating in elections?  Reportedly, persons with disabilities were not allowed to be elected due to their disabilities, what was being done in this regard?  What measures were being taken to remove restrictions for deaf people to marry?  Was El Salvador intending to sign or ratify the treaty to facilitate access to published work for visually impaired persons, adopted in Marrakech on 27 June 2013?

Employment was of great importance for persons with disabilities, for the provision of income and to allow them to contribute to society.  What measures were being taken in this regard?  Experts required additional information, for example, on how did unemployment rates for persons with disabilities compare to the rest of the population, and  were there workshops for persons with disabilities?  There appeared to be an important gender gap regarding the situation of women and men with disabilities.  Experts noted that limited education opportunities were related to employment.  What were the possibilities for linking education with the demands from the labour market?  Experts welcomed the establishment of a department of inclusive education but expressed concern about the situation in rural areas.  Were there additional programmes to involve and train teachers?  Bearing in mind the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s ‘Education for All’ initiative, how many children with disabilities were not attending school and what was being done to meet the goals set by 2015?

Experts noted with concern that legislation on the prevention of violence against women did not mention persons with disabilities.  The specific situation and vulnerability of women with disabilities should be taken into account.  Persons with disabilities in institutions were also often victims of violence; in this context, was the creation of an advisory council for women possible with direct participation of women with disabilities?  How was the participation of women with disabilities in policy making being ensured?
 
Concerning accessibility of information, particularly in the area of training for those involved in website design, were there any mechanisms to follow up on the results of the training.  Often actions focused on training without following up on the outcomes.  Were representatives in the National Council for Persons with Disabilities serving on an individual capacities or institutional representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities?  What measures had been taken to adopt the principle of inclusive schooling and what was the situation of autistic children in El Salvador?  What opportunities were available for tourists with disabilities to visit El Salvador concerning accessibility to transport, information, and cultural resources?

Did the most recent census include questions about persons with disabilities and what methodologies had been used?  Concerning international cooperation, were the rights of persons with disabilities taken into account and included in any of the programmes currently being carried out?

Response from the Delegation

Responding to questions about the lack of a monitoring mechanism, the delegation noted that the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAIPD) was putting in place its own management rules which would include a national disability-related policy and was currently the subject of wide-ranging consultations, including concerning the creation of an observatory and instruments for monitoring the policy and follow-mechanisms for the implementation of the Convention.

In response to questions about the situation of migrants, El Salvador had a memorandum of understanding with Mexico so that persons with disabilities could benefit from particular attention.  If disability arose from accidents or incidents of violence during the journey, there was a special victim assistance programme available as well as health services for migrants in transit.  Assistance for migrants returning to El Salvador, which contemplated special measures for persons with disabilities, were also contemplated as part of a memorandum of understanding between Mexico and Central American Countries established in 2009.

Access to water services and basic sanitation programmes targeted the population in general, as well as programmes to guarantee access to the poorest families in urban and rural areas.  More than 80 per cent coverage of basic sanitation and water services had been achieved.  However, there were no specific programmes for persons with disabilities.

Committee Experts had expressed concerns about restrictions preventing deaf, blind or mentally-impaired persons occupying elected positions, particularly in municipal and local councils.  This prohibition under electoral laws had been repealed in April 2011, although some restrictions remained for persons with some mental disabilities.  Initiatives had been taken to guarantee access for persons with disabilities to voting booths but additional efforts were needed, as voting centres were often located in schools and were not always accessible.  Special electoral kits for the visually-impaired and persons with limited mobility had been handed out.

Some progress had been made in the field of education, including special education.  The idea of inclusive education had been strengthened through a number of programmes, as described in the report, many of which had been carried out in part with international development projects.  A number of courses and services for persons with disabilities had been delivered; training, assistance and tool kits had been provided to schools; and training and awareness-raising activities had been implemented.  El Salvador would soon sign the treaty to facilitate access to published work for visually impaired persons, within 10 to 12 days.

The delegation recognised that significant challenges remained in the field of training and employment, in particular for persons with disabilities.  El Salvador had signed a number of International Labour Organization conventions and the Global Employment Pact.  Concerning access to justice, the delegation noted progress made by the judiciary in the provision of language interpreters and efforts to make facilities more accessible.  Other challenges included prison overcrowding and the need to uphold prisoners’ rights.

Concluding Remarks

JUAN JOSE GARCIA, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, regarding the concern about data on persons with disabilities raised by a number of Committee Experts, said that census’ questionnaires had collected information on persons with disabilities since 2011 and the delegation had referred to this during the discussion.  The national registry also collected information on adult persons with disabilities and a number of ongoing pilot programmes sought to improve the quality of statics on persons with disabilities.  In conclusion, Mr. Garcia recognised that domestic legislation should take the Convention into account and recalled that a judicial working group had been set up to address this particular issue and to ensure that the relevant codes and legislation were in line with the Convention. 

VICTORIA MARINA VELASQUEZ DE AVILES, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the dialogue had taught her that rather than it being a question of rehabilitation for persons with disabilities, the challenge constituted the rehabilitation of society as a whole.  It was society that  had prevented the enjoyment of rights of persons with disabilities.  An inclusive society and an emphasis on the dignity and the rights of persons with disabilities were needed to ensure their equal participation.  Existing rights should be developed and implemented on an equal footing to address existing challenges.  In this regard, in El Salvador, there was a clear political will and tangible actions were being taken.

RONALD MCCALLUM, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation and said that it had been a very special dialogue.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CRPD13/010E