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In Dialogue with Venezuela, Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Ask about Braille and Sign Language in Education and Public Life, and about the Situation of Women with Disabilities

15 March 2022

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Venezuela on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Experts asked about Braille and Sign Language in education and in public life, as well as asking about the situation of women with disabilities.

A Committee Expert asked how many teachers were trained in Braille, Sign Language and easy-read, and what measures had been taken to ensure that persons with disabilities had access to public information and the mass media in all accessible formats.  To what extent were these accessible formats used in the electoral process?  A Committee Expert noted that students with disabilities who were studying in mainstream schools were entitled to the assistance of Sign Language interpreters.  How many Sign Language interpreters were at schools to provide services to students with disabilities?  Could data be shared on the amount of allocated budget for producing Braille schoolbooks for students with visual impairments?  A Committee Expert asked about steps taken to address negative attitudes and discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities.  What were the measures taken to improve the situation of women and girls with disabilities? 

In the ensuing discussion, the delegation said that persons with disabilities had the right to political participation and the right to put their candidacy forward in any election or public role.  The electoral system was developed based on an automatic voting system. Since 2020 the technology and machines offered Braille, and aimed to support full accessibility by persons with disabilities.  The implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty had given rise to cooperation between the National Library, the National Book Centre and the Venezuelan Federation of the Blind.  It ensured that audio books and Braille text could be properly published.  Venezuela had been working hard to ensure accessibility of books for persons with disabilities, with more than 300 books put into an accessible format.  330,000 women in Venezuela had been recognized as having a disability and had received support and advice.  It was a priority for Venezuela to provide attention to groups which had typically suffered from discrimination.  A plan had been developed specifically for women with disabilities.  10,000 local community workers assisted women with disabilities, as part of the plan for sexual and reproductive health. 

Mervin Enrique Maldonado Urdaneta, Sectoral Vice-President for Social and Territorial Socialism of Venezuela and head of the delegation, said the foundation of the social policy of Venezuela was respect for and enjoyment of human rights, with special importance accorded to the right to equality and non-discrimination.  It was now compulsory for the media to incorporate programming in Sign Language, guaranteeing the right to information and communication to an important part of the population.  Many achievements had been made, but there was still a long way to go.  Venezuela was fully committed to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Convention was the appropriate guide to broadening protection for all persons with disabilities, and the Government of Venezuela was fully committed to realising the rights of persons with disabilities.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Maldonado Urdaneta said Venezuela guaranteed tireless commitment in the area of human rights, with emphasis on equality and respect for human dignities and equal opportunities. There were still significant challenges before Venezuela, and it was vital that everyone worked together to provide a multilateral and structural solution for persons with disabilities. 

Rosa Idalia Aldana Salguero, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, thanked the delegation and said that while the Committee celebrated the reform of the Law on Persons with Disabilities, among other achievements, there were still shortcomings with regard to the Convention. 

Jonas Ruskus, Vice Chair, thanked Venezuela for the constructive dialogue and hoped it would assist them, along with Committee’s concluding observations, to further implement the Convention. 

The delegation of Venezuela consisted of representatives of the People’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs; the People's Ministry for Internal Relations, Justice and Peace; the Ministry of People's Power for Planning; the People's Ministry for the Social Work Process; the National Electoral Council; the National Assembly; the Supreme Court of Justice; the National Human Rights Council; the National Council for Persons with Disabilities; the National Institute for the Rights of Children and Adolescents; the Ministry of People's Power for Health; the Ministry of Popular Power for Education; the Ministry of Popular Power for Habitat and Housing; the Public Prosecutor’s Office; and the Permanent Mission of Venezuela to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Information relating to the Committee’s session, including reports submitted by States parties, are available here.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 16 March, to conclude its consideration of the initial report of Switzerland (CRPD/C/CHE/1).

Report

The Committee has before it the initial report of Venezuela (CRPD/C/VEN/RQ/1).

Presentation of the Report

MERVIN ENRIQUE MALDONADO URDANETA, Sectoral Vice-President for Social and Territorial Socialism of Venezuela and head of the delegation , said the foundation of the social policy of Venezuela was respect for and enjoyment of human rights, with special importance accorded to the right to equality and non-discrimination.  It was important to highlight that Venezuela had provided the necessary guarantees for the rights of persons with disabilities through its Constitution. 

It was now compulsory for the media to incorporate programming in Sign Language, guaranteeing the right to information and communication to an important part of the population.  Venezuela had also included people with disabilities in social participation, for example through the establishment of community committees of people with disabilities; the People’s Government Presidential Council for Persons with Disabilities; and the establishment of a Commission for Persons with Disabilities within the National Constituent Assembly. 

An historic event was the development of Venezuela’s Sectoral Plan within the Plan of the Homeland 2019-2025.  Another key example of the country’s commitment was the excellent participation of Paralympic athletes in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.  27 people were represented, with 7 medals obtained, including 3 gold medals, the best result Venezuela had ever achieved.  The Government had decreed March 15 as the National Day for Persons with Disabilities.  To combat discrimination against persons with disabilities, the Government had made available comprehensive rehabilitation services at hospital and communal network levels, thus guaranteeing the right to health for persons with disabilities.  Between 2018 and 2021, Venezuela had expanded care coverage through house consultations, which had resulted in increased care for people with disabilities, particularly bearing in mind the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Venezuela was under the siege of foreign powers besetting the economy, the Government continued to rise to the challenge of supporting social inclusion policies.  Many achievements had been made, but there was still a long way to go.  Venezuela was fully committed to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Convention was the appropriate guide to broadening protection for all persons with disabilities, and the Government of Venezuela was fully committed to realising the rights of persons with disabilities.

Questions by Committee Experts

AMALIA GAMIO, Committee Vice Chair and Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, welcomed the delegation to the dialogue with the Committee.  Since the Convention had entered into force in 2008, 14 years had passed.  While the human rights approach to disability had not always been understood in Venezuela, the Committee had trust that in the near future, the State party would be able to make the change away from the model of charity when it came to persons with disabilities.  Since 2015, Venezuela had been experiencing a blockade of assets which meant a lack of food and medicines.  Yet efforts had been made despite those difficult circumstances in the defense of the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Committee noted that Venezuela could improve the participation of organizations of persons with disabilities in putting together projects; the application of effective measures to ensure the country was in line with the Convention; and further active awareness-raising in society to make sure there was a human-rights based approach to persons with disabilities.  There had been no progress in terms of legislative reform to recognise equality before the law and access to justice for persons with disabilities. 

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to provide information on the status of a new law being drafted in 2019, proposed to be known as the Constitutional Act on Persons with Disabilities.  Did it cover all forms of discrimination in relation to persons with disabilities?  Would the enactment of that law replace the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2007?

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to provide information on mechanisms to consult with organizations of persons with disabilities concerning the implementation of laws and policies affecting them.  Were people with disabilities involved in the planning or implementation of awareness-raising activities?

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to explain measures toward ensuring that the Act on Persons with Disabilities conformed with the provisions of the Convention, in particular, when it came to eliminating derogatory terminology and ensuring that persons with disabilities were fully included in all decision-making affairs of the State party.  What measures were in place to provide support services to all children with disabilities?  How were children involved in any decision-making processes in the State party?  What penalties were available for violations of accessibility standards?  What was the participation of representative organizations of persons with disabilities in the planning, design and implementation of accessibility?

A Committee Expert asked about steps taken to address negative attitudes and discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities.  What were the measures taken to improve the situation of women and girls with disabilities?  Could information be provided about how the State party ensured that the views of children with disabilities, including deaf or blind children, were taken into account?  What measures were in place to ensure that all legislation, policies and national strategies included issues of children with disabilities?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said the exchange with the Committee was highly important to Venezuela.  From 1999, Venezuela had begun to see a paradigm shift in the social order, changing the lives of persons with disabilities—a turning point in Venezuelan history.  In 2017, the Commission for Persons with Disabilities was set up within the National Assembly, resulting in a draft law for equality.

Venezuela supported the rights of persons with disabilities, including the right to peaceful demonstration.  The People’s Government Presidential Council for Persons with Disabilities had representation by each presentation of disability, ensuring the full participation and enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities.  The establishment of a new information and communications system for persons with disabilities provided important data and supported the establishment of public policies.  A sectoral plan was being developed to ensure accessible cities, making sure persons with disabilities could live a productive life.  Training was offered to persons with disabilities, helping them to become involved in public policy.

The delegation said that various events with different institutions and the Ombudsman were organized to promote visibility of persons with disabilities, including through workshops.  Those activities were also conducted by persons with disabilities.  In connection to the COVID-19 pandemic, an on-line training programme on disability was created through social networks, with more than 35,000 people trained on issues related to disabilities and pandemic-related issues.  In terms of plans to guarantee accessibility, several activities had been conducted, including inspections to ensure compliance with the law on persons with disabilities.  Between 2015 and 2019, more than 1,700 companies had been inspected in order to make sure persons with disabilities were able to have proper employment, training and support, and to work autonomously.  An employment plan was being developed with the Ministry of Labour. 

330,000 women in Venezuela had been recognized as having a disability and had received support and advice.  It was a priority for Venezuela to provide attention to groups which had typically suffered from discrimination.  A plan had been developed specifically for women with disabilities.  10,000 local community workers assisted women with disabilities, as part of the plan for sexual and reproductive health.  Those workers provided home visits and support in hospitals to help combat teenage pregnancy.  New criminal charges had been introduced which went hand in hand with protection for women with disabilities. 

Venezuela had strengthened its approach to social policy for the protection, assistance and social inclusion of boys, girls and adolescents, particularly those with disabilities.  A steering programme for children had been developed, pursuant to the Constitution, which included seven guiding pillars, ensuring everyone involved in the protection of children could work in a coordinated fashion with other State bodies.  Part of the support services involved a project to help adolescents with disabilities integrate into the employment market.  Children with disabilities had the right to be heard and to express themselves in decision-making processes.  The Supreme Court in Venezuela had ruled on the conditions in which children could be heard in court. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked how many shelters for victims of gender-based violence were accessible to women with physical disabilities? 

A Committee Expert asked if persons with intellectual disabilities had their own representative organizations?  Was the representation and participation of organizations of persons with disabilities within the political process institutionalised, or was it ad hoc

A Committee Expert asked what measures were taken by the State party to ensure accessibility, not only of public transportation in big cities, but also in rural areas? 

A Committee Expert noted the absence of policies and programmes for women and girls with disabilities, in regard to the will or free choice of having children.  Venezuela lacked comprehensive education programmes which included sexual and reproductive health education for women with disabilities.  What measures would be put in place to address those issues?

A Committee Expert asked if individuals who did not have an identification card received benefits from social programmes.  The Committee had information that 96 per cent of health services did not have Venezuelan Sign Language interpretation; could the delegation comment on that?

A Committee Expert said there were laws in Venezuela which removed or limited the legal capacity of persons with disabilities.  Was the Government planning to abolish substitute decision-making and replace it with supported decision-making?  How long could someone in Venezuela be deprived of their legal capacity?  How could someone challenge the decisions of their guardians if they did not agree with them, and could they have access to an advocate to assist them?  Were accessible personal support systems available to persons with disabilities to enable them to live independently in the community?  Were there any de-institutionalisation strategies in place, and how far had those plans progressed?

A Committee Expert asked if the delegation could inform the Committee how persons with disabilities were made a part in disaster disk reduction and pandemic planning.  What measures were taken to provide procedural and age-appropriate accommodations for persons with disabilities in the judicial system, including training?

A Committee Expert asked about measures taken to combat exploitation, violence and abuse of persons with disabilities.  What specific steps were taken to combat exploitation of and violence against persons with disabilities, especially women and children?  What efforts had been made to prohibit all corporal punishment of children with disabilities in all settings?  What steps were being taken to protect persons with disabilities from being subjected to medical experimentation without their consent?  What systems were in place to report non-consensual experimentation?

A Committee Expert asked if there were any mechanisms to monitor the closure of institutions in Venezuela.  Was there a plan to develop a census to inform how many persons with disabilities were still institutionalised in Venezuela?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that persons with disabilities who were not registered in the national identification system were still able to enjoy benefits associated with the system.  10 per cent of Venezuelans who used the national identification system had voluntarily declared that they had some form of disability.  Persons with disabilities who were homeless were guaranteed comprehensive care and support, including through care centers.  In December 2021, the Government had decreed a complete renovation of the Caracas underground transport system, with the goal of returning the system to a better state of operation.  Universal accessibility was planned for rural and urban areas.  The national council for persons with disabilities ensured technical standards for accessibility, making recommendations and providing information to any business which was planning a project in rural areas, to ensure compliance. 

Public broadcasting media ensured compliance with accessibility criteria, guaranteeing the freedom of information and expression.  A rule recognized that deaf people had the right to communicate and express themselves through Venezuelan Sign Language. 

The law on persons with disabilities ensured that they could be fully involved in their communities, to develop their skills and allow the community to benefit from their contributions.  People with disabilities were involved in the local authority councils, and also at the State level.  The “I Am Able” programme was developed to support entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities, and over half of participants were women.  In Venezuela, Braille had not been replaced with new technologies, but both systems lived side by side.  An agreement with the Ombudsman service ensured human rights training for persons with disabilities.  A “mission system” which had been created in 2014 provided social programmes and support to bring people out of poverty, including persons with disabilities.  Special vouchers within that system had been created for persons with disabilities and their families, including free prostheses and health care.  Venezuela intended to continue promoting policies at the community level, ensuring they were increasingly affordable and accessible. 

Women with disabilities in Venezuela directly and effectively participated in the elimination of gender-based violence.  Private foundations and associations allowed for the direct participation of persons with disabilities, making it easier for them to learn skills and to facilitate their social inclusion and independent working. 

The delegation noted concerns raised about the gender equality plan, and emphasised that there was cross-cutting participation of women with disabilities throughout that plan.  Venezuela had firmly shouldered the commitment of ensuring equitable development, particularly for women with disabilities.

Venezuela recognised persons with disabilities’ need to choose their own residence, to live on an equal footing with any other individual.  An expert network had been established to support the weakened hospital system, and the Venezuelan Government had committed to improvement in the public health programme.  The Ministry of Health ensured that persons with disabilities would only undergo procedures with their full and informed consent.  When an individual was in a state where they were unable to understand the decisions being made regarding them, the rights of their representative were ensured.  Those effective mechanisms were in place to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in health centers.  A complaint center was also in place.

The National Assembly of Venezuela was looking into the possibility of substituting the old regime of civil guardianship and replacing it with a support framework, which was more in line with the Convention, for properly fostering decision-making.  People were only institutionalised at a particular point in their mental health.  Once that was resolved, they returned home to their families and were not housed in an institution.

The State had the apparatus to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities were applicable before the law.  Persons with disabilities’ access to the judiciary was guaranteed.  Additional support was provided for teenagers and children with disabilities.  More than half of the courts across the country had accessibility standards in place, including wheelchair ramps.  Sign Language interpreters must always be provided for persons with disabilities who needed them.  An Ombudsman service had been established as an independent body, which had representation throughout the country and a special unit for persons with disabilities.  Reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities was a challenge for the country, but progress had been made. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked whether accessibility existed just in practice, or whether it was enshrined in regulations?  How many loans had been given to women with disabilities?  How many land titles had been put in the name of women with disabilities?  Did sign language interpreters really provide assistance and how many were there who could do the work?  Could the Ombudsman provide disaggregated data on cases of violations or rights, including data on persons with leprosy?  Concern was expressed about the care provided in “missions,” which were social projects and did not have the status of public policies.  Was the State planning to make them public policies, rather than leaving them as social programmes within the “mission” system?

A Committee Expert asked whether the delegation could provide information about measures taken to remove barriers faced by refugees with disabilities to accessing asylum procedures and asylum documentation?  Had measures been taken in law and policy to protect internally displaced persons with disabilities and those who were stateless?  What measures had been taken to ensure documentation related to refugee status was accessible?  What steps had the State party taken to prevent arbitrary arrest of undocumented persons with disabilities?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation explained that there were 29 “missions” which supported various social sectors in Venezuela.  Measuring the population of persons with disabilities in the next census would allow data to be obtained about their living conditions; reliable data would contribute to public policies.  Sign Language interpreters in judicial proceedings had become a State policy.  The rulings of all courts in Venezuela were mandatory and must be complied with. The Ombudsman had disaggregated data on persons with disabilities, and had received over 250 complaints from 2015 to 2019 related to the economic and social rights of persons with disabilities.  More than 80 land titles had been put in the names of women with disabilities, with over 50 loans granted under the “I Am Able” plan.  More than 79,000 “Homeland Committees” provided training to persons with disabilities and their families on topics including gender violence.  Women with disabilities worked at a hotline to provide comprehensive care for anyone who called the number, to receive information on gender justice.  Persons who could not travel were visited at home by trained personnel, to ensure they could obtain identity papers. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked how many single mothers with children with disabilities had benefited from the programmes in place to assist them?  What measures were in place to ensure families did not end up begging on the streets?

A Committee Expert asked how many persons with disabilities were benefiting from educational missions?  What was being done to ensure inclusive education?  Could updated information be provided on the lack of pharmaceutical medicine and specialist doctors for persons with disabilities?

A Committee Expert asked for disaggregated data about the specialised brain drain when it came to the needs of persons with disabilities?  What was being done to make up that shortfall?  How many specialists in the field of rehabilitation currently provided services for persons with disabilities?  How many programmes were available in rural and urban areas?

A Committee Expert asked what measures were in place to ensure the availability of accessible information about family services and sexual and reproductive health and the rights of persons with disabilities?  What were the legal provisions and policies in place to provide support to parents with disabilities?  What measures were in place to protect the labour rights of persons with disabilities?  What measures were in place to prohibit discrimination through the recruitment process?  What steps were in place to promote employment for persons with disabilities?

A Committee Expert asked what measures were taken the by the State party to collect and publish updated and disaggregated data, considering the last census took place in 2011?

A Committee Expert asked what measures had been taken to ensure that all educational materials were fully accessible by persons with disabilities in mainstream schools?  What measures had been taken by the State to ensure full accessibility of polling stations, voting materials and election campaigns, to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities?  Could information be provided on the measures in place to encourage persons with disabilities to take positions in higher-level decision-making, including legislators and the judiciary?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said Venezuela’s National Council for Persons with Disabilities had a family programme that aimed to provide psycho-social support to people with disabilities and their families.  The Ministry of Education was working to guarantee people with disabilities’ right to education.  In 2005, Venezuela had been declared illiteracy-free.  At university level, support services were a particular focus, with  Sign Language interpreters available to assist students.  An intersectoral approach had been taken to ensure the educational system was ready for challenges.  Teachers were trained to provide the best possible accessibility, including through Sign Language.  There were difficulties with integrating persons with disabilities in mainstream education, as they were often included in large classes with teachers who had not received training.  Changes were being made to special education because of such findings, with inclusive education being a key goal.  Inclusive education meant an inclusive school which respected the differences of all students, including if they had special needs.  Everyone deserved equal opportunities when it came to schooling, so the potential of all students could be developed without discrimination.  A special educational programme was in place providing training for teachers in primary, middle school and high school.  There was a special training course for teaching assistants.  The goal was to make sure existing staff received vocational training, and that training was provided to the wider community. 

Employment was a necessary part of Venezuelan society, and there was a right to decent work which provided liberty, with all provisions including persons with disabilities.  A law was in place which ensured that a worker who had children with disabilities, or who had a disability themselves, could never be removed from their position.  To ensure the protection of wages for persons with disabilities, a law was in place which stated that their salary must be appropriate and not below the minimum wage. 

Venezuela fully supported all health services for persons with disabilities.  The most comprehensive was the community health care system.  There were health care committees which drew on community agents and were in permanent relation with other core systems.  Venezuela was aiming to counter the narrative that there was a humanitarian crisis in the country.  Venezuela was fully committed to the health care of all, particularly the population of persons with disabilities. 

In Venezuela, persons with disabilities had the right to political participation and the right to put their candidacy forward in any election or public role.  The electoral system was developed based on an automatic voting system. Since 2020 the technology and machines offered Braille, and aimed to support full accessibility by persons with disabilities.  The National Election Council had been updating the electoral register.  Over 400 people with disabilities had registered to vote in the regional election, from a range of municipalities.  Materials were also disseminated by the electoral office to ensure full access to voting rights.  Although Sign Language interpreters were not currently in voting centers, the system of supported voting was available, where individuals could be accompanied by a trusted person while they were exercising their right to vote.  A specialised area in voting centers was in place to ensure full access for persons with disabilities.  A poster was in place in each center, which explained how supported voting took place.  The National Election Council would continue to link the different ministries and bodies responsible, to continue progress in the area of specialised support for persons with disabilities in the electoral sphere.

Family guidance programmes were in place in certain states, contributing to the full enjoyment of human rights in the area of sexual and reproductive health.  Since 2005, Venezuela had offered free services to support habilitation and rehabilitation.  The use of support technology was provided free of charge to persons with disabilities.  The implementation of the Marrakech Treaty had given rise to cooperation between the National Library, the National Book Centre and the Venezuelan Federation of the Blind.  It ensured that audio books and Braille text could be properly published.  Venezuela had been working hard to ensure accessibility of books for persons with disabilities, with more than 300 books put into an accessible format. 

Venezuela recognised the right of all persons with disabilities to marry and have children and found a family based on full and informed consent.  The right of persons with disabilities to decide the number of children they would have was also respected.  Venezuela guaranteed that persons with disabilities, including children, must be able to retain their fertility on par with any other citizen.  In no case would a child be separated from their parent because that person was disabled.

The delegation explained that the “Neighbourhood Mothers mission” was set up with the aim of supporting mothers in need and providing them support in a family environment, helping them to exit poverty.  In 2014, that social programme was able to provide comprehensive support across the country.  The programme currently protected more than 6 million families, many of which had at least one member with a disability.  Programmes which had been developed included a national plan was in place for desired, safe and happy pregnancy which included Sign Language training processes.  More than 400,000 women of fertile age had been supported. 

Independent mechanisms to monitor respect of the human rights of persons with disability included the Ombudsman’s Office, which was the national human rights body which monitored the implementation of the Convention.  The appointment of the Ombudsman was done pursuant to the legal framework.  It was an independent body and was elected by the National Assembly. 

Follow-up Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked what was being done to ensure that persons with disabilities were receiving care beyond the core services?  The Committee had received information that Venezuela’s employment training programmes were not connected to real employment opportunities.  Could more information be provided on that? 

A Committee Expert noted that the World Disability Report concluded that at least 15% of the world’s population were people with disabilities.  The data from Venezuela’s census found that only about 1.7% of the population were people with disabilities.  It was noted there would be a new national population and housing census.  Could the delegation confirm that the census had been completed?  Did census data allow for reporting of disaggregated disability data?

A Committee Expert asked how many teachers were trained in Braille, Sign Language and easy-read, and what measures had been taken to ensure that persons with disabilities had access to public information and the mass media in all accessible formats.  To what extent were these accessible formats used in the electoral process? 

A Committee Expert asked if the State party could share statistics on the number of persons with disabilities by type of impairment, sex and age?  Was the most updated report on persons with disabilities published in accessible formats?

A Committee Expert asked what follow-up measures had been put in place to ensure that persons with disabilities who had made complaints had effective access to justice?  What was happening to those complaints?  What was the number of specialists in rehabilitation and the number of Venezuelan Sign Language interpreters providing services to people with disabilities?

A Committee Expert noted that students with disabilities who were studying in mainstream schools were entitled to the assistance of Sign Language interpreters.  How many Sign Language interpreters were at schools to provide services to students with disabilities?  Could data be shared on the amount of allocated budget for producing Braille schoolbooks for students with visual impairments?

A Committee Expert asked how many persons with disabilities benefited from Venezuela’s entrepreneurship plan, particularly how many women?  How were young persons with disabilities given access to the employment market?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said 150,000 people who had self-identified as having a disability had been integrated into Venezuela’s entrepreneurship programme.  Venezuela had been working with specialised education centers to allow individuals to participate in various social spheres.  Teachers were being trained in special education, and they reached over 30 per cent of the population, and also provided support services to help all students to achieve curriculum success.  Over 120 staff had been especially trained in Braille. 

Persons with disabilities had encountered difficulties in accessing care in mainstream healthcare centers, which had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Venezuela had methodically incorporated persons with disabilities into the census process.  Fieldwork was being carried out ahead of the census, with a special section included for the study of persons with disabilities.  The results would contribute toward maximising the national statistics system.  Work toward the Sustainable Development Goals would be able to be based on the updated statistics on persons with disabilities.  The delegation said Venezuela was constantly working to ensure that 5 per cent of housing was assigned to persons with disabilities.

Despite not implementing the Braille system in the automatic voting system, persons with disabilities’ full enjoyment of the right to vote was guaranteed.  Protocols were in place guaranteeing that persons with disabilities were supported by a trusted individual that they could choose.  A national human rights plan had been developed with technical assistance from United Nations agencies.  In the context of the plan, the State had carried out more than 1.200 capacity-building workshops in the sector of human rights.  The recommendations arising from the dialogue with the Committee would be included in the new plan. 

Closing Remarks

MERVIN ENRIQUE MALDONADO URDANETA, Sectoral Vice-President for Social and Territorial Socialism of Venezuela and head of the delegation, expressed satisfaction for the constructive dialogue which had been held.  Venezuela guaranteed tireless commitment in the area of human rights, with emphasis on equality and respect for human dignities and equal opportunities.  Venezuela had spared no effort in broadening its model, underpinning the guarantee of human rights.  The country was one of the least unequal on its continent, with three quarters of its national budget allocated to social investment.  There were still significant challenges before Venezuela, given the country’s determination to comply with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.  It was vital that everyone worked together to provide a multilateral and structural solution for persons with disabilities. 

ROSA IDALIA ALDANA SALGUERO, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, thanked the delegation adding that while the Committee celebrated the reform of the Law on Persons with Disabilities, and the elaboration of the National Human Rights Plan which included persons with disabilities, there were still shortcomings with regard to the Convention.  Among other measures, the State party should ensure that the draft organic law on the protection, care and dignity of persons with disabilities was based on the Committee's general comment on equality and non-discrimination, and was fully harmonised with the Convention.  Venezuela was urged to create consultation mechanisms with all organizations of persons with disabilities for the formulation of policies, laws and measures that affected them, and to ensure that the National Council for Persons with Disabilities was an independent, autonomous and decentralised mechanism.  The Committee urged Venezuela to consider children with disabilities in a cross-cutting manner in legislation and to carry out permanent communication campaigns which promoted respect for the rights of people with disabilities, the recognition of the capacities and contributions of people with disabilities, in the mass media and within all public institutions.

JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Vice Chair, thanked Venezuela for the constructive dialogue and hoped it would assist them, along with Committee’s concluding observations, to further implement the Convention. 

 

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/03/dialogue-venezuela-experts-committee-rights-persons-disabilities

 

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