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France: UN rights expert to assess the situation of people with disabilities


GENEVA (28 September 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, will conduct her first official visit to France from 3 to 13 October 2017 to assess the situation of people with disabilities in the country.

“This is my first visit to France and I am eager to learn about the concrete measures that the authorities are taking to implement the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. This is particularly relevant given President Macron’s decision to prioritize disability during his term in office,” Ms. Devandas-Aguilar said.

“I also intend to identify challenges and gaps in protection for people with disabilities in order to formulate concrete recommendations,” she added.

The Special Rapporteur will meet Government representatives at national and departmental levels, the national human rights institution and other independent bodies, as well as people with disabilities and their representative organizations.

During her 10-day mission, Ms. Devandas-Aguilar will travel to Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Avignon, where she will visit an inclusive school, institutions for children and adults with disabilities, psychiatric facilities, as well as a project to provide housing for people with psychosocial disabilities. 

“My visit will focus primarily on the issue of institutionalization - including the practice of sending French people with disabilities to institutions in Belgium, as well as the situation of persons with autism and those with psychosocial disabilities.

“I will also examine social protection, and investigate efforts to prevent and address abuses against people with disabilities in France,” the human rights expert said.

Ms. Devandas-Aguilar will hold a press conference on 13 October at the end of her mission to share with the media the preliminary observations from her visit. It will begin at 2.30 pm at the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme (CNCDH), Salle René Cassin, 35 rue St Dominique, 75007 Paris. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report on the visit to the UN Human Rights Council, including her findings and recommendations, in March 2019.


Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar (Costa Rica) was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities in June 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Devandas Aguilar has worked extensively on disability issues at the national, regional and international level with the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, the UN unit responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Bank. Her work has focused on the rights of women with disabilities and the rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: France

For press enquiries and additional information, please contact:

In France (during the visit):
Ms. Cristina Michels, (+ 41 79 444 5172, cmichels@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Ms. Cristina Michels (+41 22 928 9866 / cmichels@ohchr.org) or write to sr.disability@ohchr.org

In Geneva (during the visit):
Ms. Alina Grigoras, (+41 22 917 9289, agrigoras@ohchr.org), or write to sr.disability@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)  

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