Header image for news printout

Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Ask Djibouti about the Absence of Alternative Reports by Civil Society and Inclusive Education

1 September 2021

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial periodic report of Djibouti, after its Experts raised questions about alternative reports from civil society, the guardianship regimes effects on legal personhood, and among others.

Committee noted that it had not received alternative reports from organizations of persons with disabilities from Djibouti, which was a concern.  In 2013, it was recommended by the Committee to adopt measures to create an environment conducive to exercise the rights of freedom association and assembly to promote the activities of civil society. 

The Committee noted that the legal capacities of persons with disabilities were essential – yet their legal capacity could be taken away.  Djibouti considered its guardianship regime as a protective measure, but it was not in line with the Convention, stripping persons with disabilities from their independence and autonomy.  Experts asked for more information and data on guardianship measures and inquired about the actions that should be taken to ensure that the guardianship regime was replaced or reformed.

Experts also sought information from the State party regarding education, including segregated centres.  Based on the information provided, Djibouti had set up special segregated schools for children with disabilities.  Would the new legislation repeal the legal provisions on which the building of such centres was based?  More information on access to education of girls with disabilities and children with disabilities in refugee camps as well was requested.

Ali Hassan Bahdon, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, noted that the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had strengthened the legal and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.  Djibouti undertook strong measures to adapt its information and response programs to COVID-19, through awareness campaigns in sign languages ​​on the public audio-visual service and distribution of food stamps in order to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people, in particular persons with disabilities.  While the Constitution afforded full protection of rights, an important mechanism had been recently adopted to give full effect to these constitutional protections through the adoption of a law in February 2017. 

The delegation of Djibouti noted that there was no culture of reporting in Djibouti, even in civil society.  Work was done in the field, and in talking with people on the ground informally, leading to the lack of alternative reports.  An operational plan had been set up over three years to develop a national strategy for persons with disabilities, identifying activities that would significantly change the role of the organizations of persons with disabilities such as the Blind Persons Association, among others.  The delegation listed several organizations supporting persons with disabilities that operated at national and local levels, working on specific disabilities or broadly supporting all persons with disabilities in particular fields, such as an organization helping young entrepreneurs with disabilities, inter alia.  While awaiting a rating in according with the Paris Principles, Djibouti was supporting the National Human Rights Commission application; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Commission was unable to travel to Geneva for accreditation. 

The delegation clarified that a legal protection measure in the Civil Code existed for persons who were unable to freely exercise and fully enjoy the right to a legal person.  The Civil Code changed the terminology in order to avoid any stigmatization – the Code of the Family for example, spoke of “unable people”, now renamed to “people under guardianship”.  Legal protection measures were only a last resort, granted by a judge to protect the person.  Judges had to respect three well-defined principles of necessity, subsidiarity, and proportionality, which were monitored by the justice system; the priority was the well-being of the person.  Any person under guardianship was still a rights-holder who could own property and assets.  Guardianships could last up to five years or less, and medical assessments that determined the mental state of the person improved could amend or end the guardianship.  

Two educational centres had been set up for deaf and hard of hearing persons, as well as for blind and sight-impaired persons.  A bill allowed for separated education, but it aimed at offering initiatives specifically for persons and children with disabilities such as training and education, ensuring full access to these services, seeking to combat discrimination rather than enforce it.  An awareness raising and training workshop around special needs was being gathered at the moment.  Around 50 staff members had been trained in Braille and sign language and other support languages for children with disabilities.  Inclusive education was central to the long-term plan, which prioritised steady integration of children with disabilities into the broader education system.  There were three types of planned integration: inclusive classes where all children studies together in integrated schools, classes of children with the same disability within “ordinary” schools where all children interacted outside of class, and specialized centres adapted for children with physical disabilities that required much more specialized support.

In his concluding remarks, Samuel Kabue, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, commended the state for the determination to work towards the achievement of the objectives of the Convention, noting the State Party’s acknowledgment that much remained to be done.

Ali Hassan Bahdon, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, assured the Committee of Djibouti’s determination to ensure the full implementation of the Convention.

The delegation of Djibouti consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity, the Ministry of National Education and Professional Training, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Economy and Finances, the Ministry of Habitat, Urban Planning and the Environment, the Ministry of Women and the Family, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the National Agency of Persons with Disabilities, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and the National Statistics Institute.

The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Djibouti at the closing of its twenty-fifth session on 14 September at 2 pm.  Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage.

The webcast of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here

Report

The Committee has before it the initial periodic report of Djibouti (CRPD/C/DJI/1).

Presentation of the Report

ALI HASSAN BAHDON, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, stated that the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had strengthened the legal and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.  Djibouti had undertaken strong measures to adapt its information and response programs to COVID-19, through awareness campaigns in sign languages ​​on the public audio-visual service, and distribution of food stamps in order to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people, in particular persons with disabilities.  While the Constitution afforded full protection of rights, an important mechanism had been recently adopted to give full effect to those constitutional protections through the adoption of a law in February 2017.  The law considered a person with disabilities or special needs as "any person unable to perform totally or partially one or more activities of daily life, following a permanent or occasional impairment of sensory, mental or motor functions due to congenital or acquired origin”.

To give full effect to the provisions of this law, the Government had decreed a “Mobility-Inclusion” Card, which gave its holders rights and advantages in terms of access to health care, rehabilitation, financial assistance, education, transport, as well as any other benefit likely to improve their living conditions.  In 2020, Djibouti had adopted a decree instituting mandatory measures and other incentives for the hiring of disabled workers in private sector and public establishments.

The National Agency for Persons with Disabilities had been created on 25 June 2018 to promote the participation, integration and equal opportunities of persons with disabilities, in all areas of social life, commanding a substantial staff and budget.  The Agency also carried out a survey to have sufficient disaggregated data on the population of persons with disabilities.  The issue of women and children with disabilities occupied a central place in the Government's proactive policy towards persons with disabilities.  Some examples of those efforts included, inter alia, the establishment of awareness programs on gender-based violence and family planning, and the pursuit of inclusive education that integrated children with disabilities.

Questions by the Country Co-Rapporteur

GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, welcomed the Djibouti delegation, commending the country for the recently passed act aiming at promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, and the establishment of the National Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

There was a concern, however, that the definition of “disability” in Article 1 of the Act No.  207/AN/17/7ème L was not in line with the human rights model of disability enshrined in the Convention.  There was no information on the human, technical and financial resources allocated to the Agency, and it was also not possible to assess the impact of the work of the Agency in coordinating the State party’s implementation of the Convention.

The Committee had not received alternative reports from organizations of persons with disabilities from Djibouti, which was a concern.  In 2013, the Committee had recommended to Djibouti to adopt measures to create an environment conducive to exercise the rights of freedom association and assembly to promote the activities of civil society.  Had any action been taken?  A monitoring, independent institution accredited according to the Paris principles had not yet been established.

Additionally, there seemed to be restrictions on the exercise of some of the rights of persons with disabilities who were denied access to justice on grounds of disability.

Moreover, Article 19 of the Civil Code, which provided that the physical integrity of the human body might be violated only when medically necessary, was of concern, as it gave medical practitioners room to decide on violations of the integrity of the human body of persons with disabilities.

Questions by Committee Members

Multiple experts reiterated the concern regarding the lack of alternative reports, asking the delegation about its efforts to strengthen civil society.

Did the board of the National Agency, in its current composition, include persons of disabilities?  How many were there, and what disabilities did they have?

Regarding denial of reasonable accommodation on the grounds of disability – were there mechanisms to protect against intersectional or multiple discrimination, such as disability and race or gender?

A Committee expert sought specific information on policies that led to real empowerment of women and girls with disabilities.  Further information on nomad groups, internally displaced, and other marginalized groups was solicited from the delegation, considering the overall lack of data.

Information was also needed on how the implementation of legal provisions in courts affected children with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities; they lived with stigma and discrimination, and it was unclear whether the court system reinforced them.  Were people with disabilities involved in the design and implementation of the new Government measures introduced by the delegation?

Was there a compliance mechanism guaranteeing the effective application and provisions regarding accessibility, including whether complaints could be made by persons with disabilities?  Was there a strategy in place regarding the implementation of the accessibility standards in Djibouti?

The medical approach to disability was not in line with the Convention, but was evident in a variety of legislations, so a Committee expert asked whether steps had been taken by Djibouti to counteract this approach.

Replies by the delegation

ALI HASSAN BAHDON, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, noted that the Director of the National Agency for Persons with Disabilities was a person with a disability.

The administration board of the Agency had 14 members, two of whom were persons with disabilities, a woman with a physical disability from the National Network for persons with disabilities and associated organizations, and a man with a visual impairment from the Ministry of National Education.  In March 2018, a partnership between the Agency and the National Network had been set up to improve the participation of persons with disabilities.  An operational plan had been set up over three years to set out the national strategy for persons with disabilities, identifying activities that would significantly change the role of the organizations of persons with disabilities such as the Blind Persons Association, among others.  The delegation listed several organizations supporting persons with disabilities that operated at national and local levels, working on specific disabilities or broadly supporting all persons with disabilities in particular fields, such as an organization helping young entrepreneurs with disabilities, for example. 

Awareness-raising workshops on the issue of disability had been held at the national level, in town centres, as well as in rural areas.  Taking various forms such as focus groups or speaking groups, they were designed to help combat stigmatization and building a positive perception of disability.  Trainings on how to address persons with disabilities had been given to the media.  Religious and customary leaders had also been trained in the legal frameworks on disability.  COVID-19 awareness-raising sessions with specific measures and needs of persons with different types of disabilities ensured that coverage and assistance was uniform across the board.  Women with disabilities were made aware of their rights in particular.  In November 2020 an awareness campaign has been launched to prevent and combat discrimination, involving local influencers such as singers and actors to broadcast positive messages about disability and provoke behavioural change. 

Equality and non-discrimination were constitutional principles reflected in almost all legislation, as well as found in most national policies.  Article 5 of the 2017 law criminalized discriminatory acts defined as all acts that excluded or caused a reduction in opportunities for persons with specific needs.  The definition was perhaps rather vague, which was why Djibouti was currently working on a draft law that was already advanced, to be presented to the Parliament when it reconvened in September.  The law proposed new definitions, covering all aspects of non-discrimination, defining also reasonable accommodation, discrimination based on disability, and more.  It was in line with the Convention, and planned to strengthen the protection of women and children with disabilities, particularly from violence and exploitation. 

Work was ongoing to harmonise all national legislation to ensure that references to persons with disabilities were referred to using the same inclusive language that would be in line with the Convention.  In particular, the term “persons with special needs” would no longer be used.

ALI HASSAN BAHDON, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, noted that there was no culture of reporting in Djibouti, even in civil society.  Work was being done in the field, and in talking with people on the ground informally, leading to the lack of alternative reports.  There were some documents that the delegation could make available to the Committee.

The Ministry of Women, since its initiation, had taken a number of measures to empower women with disabilities.  An ambitious project to empower women with disabilities on an economic level had been launched.  Fourteen cooperatives had been created in the agriculture, processing, food and artisanal industries, allowing a number of women with disabilities to build up their own businesses and send their children to school as a result of their work in those cooperatives.  The Ministry for Women also ran a Centre for Social Action and Women’s Empowerment that provided professional training for women and girls, including those with disabilities, who had left the school at a young age.

Regarding children with disabilities, the delegation explained that, apart from the provisions of the penal code, violence was more severely punished when the victim was a minor with disabilities, including discrimination as an aggravating factor.  Parents often tried to hide the disability of their children by replacing documents and certificates, and article 452 of the penal code stipulated a penalty of up to three years in prison for that crime. 

Follow-up questions by Committee Members

SAMUEL KABUE, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, asked whether Djibouti considered aligning national law with international framework on disaster risk reduction, creating a culture of prevention.  Was Djibouti looking to strengthen its climate change mitigation measures?  How was Djibouti planning for long-term recovery from COVID-19, particularly regarding persons with disabilities?  What measures were taken to protect persons with disabilities in armed conflict contexts?

In what ways did the State Party consider the guardianship regime as a protective measure, and what actions should be taken to ensure that the guardianship regime was replaced or reformed?  A Committee Expert noted that the legal capacities of persons with disabilities were essential – yet their legal capacity could be taken away.  Civil and family codes were not in line with the Convention in this regard.  Was Djibouti aiming to change those provisions?  Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code had provisions that excluded persons with disabilities from legal proceedings that could deprive them of their freedom.  Would measures be taken to eliminate those provisions?

Were any persons with disabilities living in institutions or segregated settings?  More information was requested about health care facilities and their environments as related to persons with disabilities.  Were any measures taken to eliminate female genital mutilation against girls and women with disabilities?  How had the State Party ensured that medical treatments of persons with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities were done with their consent

Regarding age-appropriate accommodation through legal processes, a Committee expert asked for concrete figures on the benefits derived from such services by persons with disabilities.  Information regarding access, availability and affordability of mobility aides and assistive devices, especially in rural areas and displacement camps, was also solicited. 

Thousands of migrants that passed through Djibouti, on their way from Somalia and Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia or another state, fell victims to human trafficking.  People with disabilities were disproportionately affected by sexual exploitation.  An expert wanted to know what measures Djibouti had taken to protect vulnerable migrants from trafficking and sexual exploitation, in particular women and children with disabilities.

Replies by the delegation

The Djibouti delegation noted that the country had undertaken colossal efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the health, psycho-social, and economic spheres.  A national response plan had been set up, creating a special COVID fund to provide health and social support; persons with disabilities and families who had a person with disabilities were among the prioritized groups in terms of health care and hygiene assistance and other types of support, including economic support.  Awareness raising and specialized communication had been developed for persons with disabilities, such as messaging in sign language.  Civil society, through the National Network of persons with disabilities and associated organizations, had been mobilised to provide guidance and the right information.  A spontaneous direct exchange had been set up and the Government had reached out to the priority groups when responding to the pandemic.  Protection kits had been distributed, and food support had been provided during the confinement period.  Over 1,800 persons with disabilities had benefitted from those programs thus far. 

The COVID-19 pandemic had not had any specific consequences on persons with disabilities, with regard to health.  The Ministry of Health was in the process of setting up awareness-raising sessions for persons with disabilities to prepare for the possibility of a third wave.  Vaccinations had begun in March 2021, with two major sites in the capital open to everyone. 

All newly built health care centres were equipped to ensure easy access for those with reduced mobility, based on directives of the Ministry of Health.  A number of centres in Djibouti city had been transformed to polyclinics, adapted and accessible to persons with disabilities.  Regarding hospitalizations of persons with psycho-social disabilities, the delegation explained that no one, even in psychiatric hospitals, had been forced into hospitalization, unless they were creating social disturbances.  As persons with disabilities were unable to create such disturbances, they were not hospitalized.

An office on all matters related to women and children existed with a mandate to combat female genital mutilation.  Training and informational sessions were organized with hospital staff, and ongoing education was provided to the entirety of the population to eliminate the practice.

Djibouti was increasingly facing challenges related to climate change, stressed the delegation.  A plan for cases of natural disasters existed, with multisectoral provisions to address potential impacts of disasters involving several countries.  Djibouti was currently seeking to update that plan.

The right to life for all was protected by Djibouti’s Constitution.  All individuals, including persons with disabilities, had a legal person.  A legal protection measure in the Civil Code existed for persons who were unable to freely exercise and fully enjoy that right.  The Civil Code changed the terminology in order to avoid any stigmatization: the Family Code, for example, which had referred to “unable people”, was now using the term “people under guardianship”.  Legal protection measures were only a last resort, granted by a judge to protect the person.  The judge had to respect three well-defined principles of necessity, subsidiarity, and proportionality, which were monitored by the justice system; the priority was the well-being of the person.  Any person under guardianship was still a rights-holder who could own property and assets.  Guardianships could last up to five years or less, and medical assessments that determined the mental state of the person improved could amend or end the guardianship.  There was no disaggregated data on legal protection measures handed down by Djibouti.  There were no discriminatory provisions in the Criminal Code, as the provisions noted by the Committee applied to all persons rather than targeting specifically persons with disabilities.

In Djibouti, persons with disabilities were not housed in special centres.  There were special services in each sector and department, covering education, health, social protection, services related to women and the family, employment – all with the aim to provide better support without discrimination.  Persons with disabilities had represented a national priority since the creation of the Agency.  Djibouti’s strategy was to guarantee their social and economic integration to allow them to be autonomous and independent.  The Government collaborated with civil society to raise awareness among parents to better care for children with psycho-social disabilities and autism. 

Children with disabilities were schooled, receiving assistance, such as scholarships and school materials, and encouraged to pursue studies at every level.  The Ministry of Education prioritized the education of children with disabilities, implementing a new global strategy for children with all disabilities.  That had led to awareness-raising campaigns in various regions of the country, also covering the implementation of welcoming structures.  Much work had started since mid-August at one school specifically intended to welcome children with various disabilities.  A Braille manual for children with visual impairments was being designed.  An association bringing together organizations working with children with motor disabilities had been created.  The strategy was aimed at adapted welcoming centres so that children with all disabilities would be educated together with other children.  Centres for children with visual disabilities and motor disabilities were being set up.  Any child with any disability would be enrolled in school, which was one of the priorities.  The Ministry of Education, together with the World Bank, was developing a National Action Plan in 2021-2025, in the long-term going to 2035, aiming to welcome children with specific needs to all classrooms.  The objective was to eliminate disparities to promote schooling for all. 

One of the main tasks of the Agency was to provide mobility and assistive devices, ensuring that persons with disabilities were autonomous.  Over 1,200 pieces of equipment had been distributed.  Regarding access and availability in rural areas, the Agency had focal points in six regions, conveying the needs of persons with disabilities in far flung areas, in terms of equipment.  The Agency wished also to include refugees, seeking to conduct a field mission to identify persons who could benefit from its services. 

Follow-up questions by Committee Members

GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, asked for more information about the Braille manual mentioned by the delegation, and for a clarification on whether the National Network was independent. 

What information was used in classifying a person with disability as “violent” when they experienced forced hospitalization?  Information on the repeal of laws that allowed for the deprivation of liberty of persons with disabilities on the basis of actual or perceived impairments, or presumed dangerousness to oneself or to third parties, particularly persons with psychosocial impairment, was requested.  Specific information on the availability of accessible independent living support services was also requested.

As the delegation noted that persons with disabilities were not victims of any discrimination based on a household survey, another Committee expert asked it to explain specifically which data was used to reach this strong conclusion.  What percentage of women with disabilities attended university education and subsequently how many of those women then were employed?

A Committee expert asked for information on the operational risk management plan, known as the disaster response organization plan in the State Party’s reply to the List of Issues, as well as on data on refugee with disabilities – including children with disabilities that had been long-term refugees in Djibouti. 

Replies by the delegation

ALI HASSAN BAHDON, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, reassured the Committee that it was the intention of the delegation to make progress.  Guardianship system existed today, and it worked; Djibouti was willing to learn about other models.  There was a willingness to improve, however it was important to denote Djibouti’s status as one of the least developed countries in the world.

It was possible to forcibly restrain a person when they were violent – in other words when they posed a risk to themselves and to others.  This was not a standard step for persons with disabilities, but only in cases when there was a risk of violence.

It was worth clarifying that Djibouti was one of the pilot countries part of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework to apply a new approach to the socioeconomic integration of refugees.  A Government institution guaranteed commitments to protect refugees, with structures and units and centre and village levels, meaning services could be delivered at the grassroots level, including to refugees with disabilities. 

The delegation noted that interpreters were available in the court system if individuals did not speak French or Arabic.  For persons with disabilities, interpretation in sign language was often provided by member of their families due to a lack of universal sign language.  A legal body to deal with that issue had been set up recently, as well as a school training judges and magistrates.  It was aimed to integrate training in sign language at the national level either this year or the following year.

Women with disabilities were provided with training in accounting, insurance, banking, transport, and other areas to ensure that they would be able to acquire jobs on the labour market.  The majority of women with disabilities worked as entrepreneurs – even more than men with disabilities. 

Follow-up questions by Committee Members

How many qualified sign language interpreters did the country have?  The amount of disability allowance was a quarter of the average salary, so what further measures were there to protect persons of disabilities from poverty?

A Committee expert inquired about the national law in place to enforce the legal provision to respect the right to privacy of persons with disabilities.

What measures were taken to protect and promote the right to reproductive health care for women with disabilities, as well as to uphold the right to the free and informed consent of persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities with regard to medical treatment? 

Based on the information provided, Djibouti had set up special segregated schools for children with disabilities.  Would the new legislation repeal the legal provisions on which the building of such centres was based?  More information was also requested on access to education of girls with disabilities and children with disabilities in refugee camps.

Were there any possibilities for persons with disabilities to take part in public life of the country?  What was the state of ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty?  Were any measures taken to involve and encourage representative organisations of persons with disabilities to promote recreation, leisure, and sports among the community of persons with disabilities?

Experts were still not clear how Djibouti defined “severe” and “moderate” disabilities.  More information on the household survey numbers, and the design of the upcoming survey, was requested.

It was surprising that the National Human Rights Commission was not included in the Accreditation Charter of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.  Had Djibouti requested to be accredited, asked an expert, and if not, then why not, and if a request had been rejected, why was this the case?

SAMUEL KABUE, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, noted that the social protection policy impacting persons with disabilities did not seem to consider social needs associated with disability.  What measures was the State taking to ensure protection of the rights of persons with disabilities with respect to the family, parenthood, and relationships?

Replies by the delegation

The delegation noted that the State Party instituted several human rights protection mechanisms, including the National Human Rights Commission.  A subcommittee of the Commission dealt specifically with the rights of persons with disabilities.  The members of the Commission had been appointed, and the nomination procedure had been inclusive, and the Commission included representatives of civil society and public authorities, researchers, and religious figures.

The guardianship mechanism would be reviewed, said the delegation, and plans were already in place to replace the decision-making system. 

Work was also underway to accommodate places of voting for persons with disabilities.  Article 48 of the Organic Law stated that if a person could not cast a vote autonomously, they were authorized to be assisted by a voter of their choice.

Regarding the protection of private life, all persons, including those with disabilities, were covered by the rules, but there were exceptions.  Confidential medical information was only used to protect the person with disabilities when they could not protect themselves, explained the delegation. 

The State Party had to establish the prevalence of disability, for which the 2019 household survey had been designed.  This was one of the first such studies undertaken in the country.  Among other figures, disparities between gender in access to education and the labour market showed that 35 percent of women with disabilities vs 54 percent of women overall were actively employed.  Based on such findings, a range of specific actions to reduce disparity and discrimination had been undertaken aimed at providing support for women and girls with disabilities with training, psychological and financial support, preparing them for work, interviews, entrepreneurial projects and etc.  There was no accurate data regarding the number of women with disabilities in employment, but the new national strategy was designed to provide much more in-depth data disaggregated by disability.

The National Agency was supported by line ministries in setting up an inter-institutional committee working on the reform bill.  The long-term national action plan was being developed in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme, aligned with the 2030 Agenda, including a national strategy for persons with disability with specific pillars targeting the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. 

The National Agency provided free mobility assistive devices such as wheelchairs and crutches to both adults and children.  Over 1,200 such devices had been provided thus far.  A number of partnerships between the National Human Rights Institution and other organizations existed to support persons with disabilities, distributing 200 wheelchairs adapted with different technologies.  Various international organizations also provided prostheses and other apparatus. 

Djibouti had a national social protection strategy, with social assistance and healthcare provided to persons with disabilities.  Over 6,000 persons with disabilities benefitted from health insurance throughout the whole country with this program, which was funded with USD 1.12 million per year.  A national solidarity program provided cash transfers to ensure food security, with 12,370 persons, largely persons with disabilities, benefitting from it.

The delegation informed that 12,500 refugees were signed up to the refugee support system ensuring their healthcare access.  Some 1,000 urban refugees also received food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Djibouti had amended the former decree relating to the registration of support for vulnerable persons by including refugees, who were now able to take advantage of those programs.

Two educational centres were set up for deaf and hard of hearing persons, as well as for blind and sight-impaired persons.  That did not represent preferential segregation, however; a bill allowed for separated education, but it aimed at offering initiatives specifically for persons and children with disabilities such as training and education, ensuring full access to these services, seeking to combat discrimination rather than enforce it.  Inclusive education was central to the long-term plan, which prioritised steady integration of children with disabilities into the broader education system.  There were three types of planned integration: inclusive classes where all children studies together in integrated schools, classes of children with the same disability within “ordinary” schools where all children interacted outside of class, and specialized centres adapted for children with physical disabilities that required much more specialized support.

Consent for treatment of persons with psychosocial disabilities who were unable to understand their own suffering was sought from their families, said the delegation.

Follow-up questions by Committee Experts

SAMUEL KABUE, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, asked a follow up question on the right to form a family.  According to the household survey, it was clear that inequality between persons with disabilities and those with no disabilities, existed; hence, more information on the clear pathway to combat these inequalities was requested.

GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, noted that the delegation stated that some reforms were taking place.  Was a correct approach to disability planned to be used in the Labour Code?  Regarding the social protection using the solidarity programme geared towards vulnerable persons, were disability-related expenses taken care of?

Another Committee expert asked for information on any effective measures taken to promote gender equality and fair payment for labourers with disabilities.  What measures were taken to ensure that persons with disabilities had access to income guarantees during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?

Regarding the accreditation of the National Commission for Human Rights, a Committee Expert noted that Swiss entry rules had been relaxed.  Were there any plans to now conduct the travel required for accreditation?

Djibouti had only one psychiatric hospital, located in the capital, where refugee patients were referred to.  However, they had to be accompanied by a healthcare worker – did that mean that if that person was unavailable, no services would be provided?  Were there plans to improve the availability of psychiatric care and other mental health services?

How did the State encourage the exercising of the right of persons with disabilities to adopt children and ensure the rights of parents with disabilities?  Regarding the three-pronged approach to inclusive education – if all children could play together, it meant that they could learn together.  Were there any plans to move to a fully inclusive education strategy? 

A Committee expert asked whether there were any measures to encourage persons with disabilities to participate in the political process themselves, such as becoming members of parliament?

Braille was a very important tool for learning.  Could the State Party clarify how widely it was used, if there were enough teachers, and how many blind persons could read and write Braille?

Replies by the delegation

The National Human Rights Institution was currently working on the conditions and requirements needed for accreditation.  It had created a report of its activities over the past three years and prepared a review of its internal statutes with a draft bill to be adopted in September to bring the statutes in line with the Paris Principles.  The last requirement was to create an accreditation plan, which had also been completed.  Discussions were being prepared with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to settle on the final details of the accreditation.

Sometimes there was a need for differentiated treatment of children with disabilities, the delegation stated.  Some children, such as those who were visually impaired, could only be taught by specially trained teachers.  Hence, such situations required approaches that were designed specifically for those children.  The delegation noted that Djibouti did not have the resources to train all teachers in those techniques, therefore fully inclusive education was only possible in the long term.  The Ministry of Education was specifically focused on encouraging the education and training of girls and girls with disabilities.  There was still a long way to go in building fully inclusive and integrated education, but Djibouti was committed to ensuring the education system was fully in line with the provisions of the Convention.

A plan was on the table to set up a de-centralized approach to mental health care, and to provide services for persons with psycho-social disabilities, setting up care in different regions.  A plan to build a second psychiatric hospital was also being currently developed, as well as the training of doctors and nurses in mental health care.

Social protection expenditures using the solidarity programme related to disability varied, correlated with the standard of living of the individual in question, and more than the amount that a person without a disability received.  Additional assistance, whether nutritional or educational, was also provided. 

Djibouti’s Family Code did not have any restrictions on the right to have a family, or on the ability to adopt a child. 

Finally, the delegation explained that there was a Braille writing training workshop for teachers, with about a dozen teachers already trained, and every year a dozen more would be added.

Concluding remarks

ALI HASSAN BAHDON, Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Affairs in charge of Human Rights, highlighted that all government measures and actions shared and discussed during the dialogue were part of a new ambition aimed at continuously strengthening, improving and extending the mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in Djibouti. 

SAMUEL KABUE, Committee Member and Country Co-Rapporteur for Djibouti, commended Djibouti for the determination to work towards the achievement of the objectives of the Convention.  Noting the State Party’s acknowledgment that much remained to be done, Mr. Kabue highlighted the need to fast track the implementation of the Convention both in law and practice.

ROSEMARY KAYESS, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue.

 

 

___________

 

For use of the information media; not an official record