Timor-Leste: UN calls for urgent action to ensure rights of persons with disabilities

20 September 2011

Despite progress in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, Timor-Leste needs to take urgent action to prevent discrimination and provide equal opportunities, especially in access to voting and education and fighting gender-based violence, the United Nations warned today.

Women, children and persons with mental disabilities are the most vulnerable to discrimination on the basis of disability, according to a report issued by the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), the first public study by a peacekeeping mission on the rights of persons with disabilities.

“We hope that this report will make a valuable contribution to the national policy on disability and help pave the way for Timor-Leste’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” UNMIT human rights chief Louis Gentile said, referring to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force globally in 2008 and commits States to enact laws to ensure such rights and abolish practices that constitute discrimination.

Electoral policies need to better address accessibility and guarantee the right to vote for all persons with disabilities for elections next year and children with disabilities must be able to access education without discrimination, according to the report.

Increased regulation of health care for persons with mental disabilities is crucial to protect them from cruel treatment and deprivation of liberty, and women with disabilities should be included in efforts to combat gender-based violence, it added.

The rights of persons with disabilities, who are often excluded from access to information, public buildings, transport and other forms of national infrastructure, must be considered in future national regulations, it stressed.

The report was prepared in the context of UNMIT’s mandate to monitor human rights. The mission was set up in 2006 to succeed earlier missions following an outbreak of deadly violence in the South-East Asian country, which the UN shepherded to independence in 2002 after it broke away from Indonesia.


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