ATC130820: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities on the implementation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, dated 14 August 2013
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women,
Children and People with Disabilities on the implementation of the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, dated 14 August
and Select Committees on Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities having
conducted public hearings on the implementation of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities held on 25 and 26 July
2012, reports as follows:
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol on 30 November 2007.
Furthermore, South Africa has also agreed to be a pilot country for
implementing the international treaty into domestic legislation and practice.
It has been noted that the
Convention marked a major shift in the way societies view persons with
disabilities, with the disabled person being the key decision-maker in his or
her own life. The Convention makes persons with disabilities rights holders
and subjects of the law with full participation in formulating and
implementing plans and policies affecting them. While South Africa has
committed to the treaty obligations with regards to the Convention it has not
delivered on its initial country report in this regard. Given Parliaments
oversight role on treaty compliance and public participation it was therefore
essential for Parliament to host public hearings on South Africas compliance
with the Convention as the institution, through its oversight function, plays a
key role in ensuring respect for the human rights of people with disabilities.
of the public hearings were to:
a) To identify progress
made in implementing the Convention,
identify challenges in implementing the
Convention from both civil society and the Executive,
c) To ascertain mechanisms
that would aid the implementation of the Convention.
consisted of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with
Disabilities from the National Assembly and the Select Committee on Women,
Children and People with Disabilities from the National Council of Provinces.
received 24 submissions from the public including the organisations and
individuals who requested to make oral submissions. These included
Quantum Consulting; Dr
Lorenzo, Disability Studies and Occupational Therapy and Dr
, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences,
University of Cape Town; Transport Users Group; Down Syndrome South Africa;
Empowerment Programme: Children with disabilities and their families; Mr
Skosana; Ms June McIntyre, Occupational Therapist,
University of KwaZulu-Natal; Dr Helen
Centre for Disability Law and Policy, University of Western Cape; Amanda
, Director Universal Design in Public Transport
Projects; Dementia South Africa; Association for Physically Challenged; Michele
; the South Africa Human Rights Commission;
Right to Education Children with Disabilities; Mr P
Early Childhood Development (ECD) sub-group on the Right to Education for
Children with Disabilities; Blind South Africa; Central Gauteng Mental Health
Society; Association for Hearing Loss Accessibility and Development;
and mothers for
children with disabilities from Orange Farm, Gauteng Province;
Workshop for the Disabled; Disabled People of
South Africa and Community-Based Rehabilitation Education and Training
Having interacted with the organisations, the Committees made the
following observations. Numerous concerns and challenges were raised as key
issues that impact the lives of people with disabilities at the public
hearings, as well as within the written submissions and based on the radio
interviews that Members conducted on the public hearings. Herewith a summary of
key issues that emerged:
Access to education remains a major concern for
children, youth and persons with disabilities.
Despite the current provisions in law and policies,
the vast majority of children with disabilities are not attaining a secondary
school qualification in order to access opportunities for further education.
Early Childhood Development was noted as an
imperative foundation phase for young children with disabilities. Several
submissions highlighted that attitudinal and physical barriers inhibited
children with disabilities from accessing early childhood development centres
and/or primary schools. Where children with disabilities do gain entry in
foundation phase education, the transition to secondary schooling is low and
the attainment of a grade 12 certificate is dismal. As such, youth with
disabilities are unable to access opportunities for higher education and this
in turn impacts on their employability in the future.
Special Schools for children with disabilities,
their resourcing, quality education and curriculum were some of the concerns
In terms of higher education institutions, access
to finance (bursaries) to attain a tertiary qualification was noted as a major
hindrance along with the lack of assistive technology and support.
The majority of submissions highlighted the link
between poverty and the impact on persons with disabilities in terms of
vulnerability, thus reiterating the importance of promoting economic
The employment prospects in the open labour market
for persons with disabilities were dismal in the country. This was attributed
to a number of factors such lack of appropriate educational qualifications and
skills; poor compliance of the 2% employment equity target in public and
private sector; reasonable accommodation only partially implemented; lack of
accessible transport and negative attitudes and stereotypes of employees who
refuse to employ persons with disabilities and or a reluctance to enhance
career paths for existing employees with disabilities.
In terms of entrepreneurship development, a lack of
access to financial aid and business support impeded persons with disabilities
from advancing in opportunities of the second economy insofar as small medium
and micro enterprises are concerned.
Overall there appears to be very
low levels of participation of persons with disabilities in the financial
sector and formal economy with insufficient targeted investments focussed on
persons with disabilities. An example cited was how the proudly South African
campaign could potentially be incorporating persons with disabilities in terms
of promoting South African products.
Maltreatment and Neglect
Many reports on the sexual abuse, maltreatment and
neglect particularly of children and women with intellectual disabilities,
psycho-social disabilities were received. This was noted as a major concern.
Perpetrators are known in the community and often
are never held to account or else released on bail.
Victims are often unaware that the perpetrator is
not allowed to be in close proximity or contact with him/her even though the
protection order affords the protection.
Victims and their families are often persuaded by
the perpetrators family to withdraw the charges and offered monetary
compensation or the like.
Police officers expected to take down statements
once a victim reports an instance of abuse and or rape, have been reported to
be extremely insensitive, not taking the matter seriously or dismissing the
Access to rehabilitation for persons with
disabilities is hindered at primary health care level due to non-availability
of rehabilitation professionals (speech therapists, occupational therapists,
South Africa trains many rehabilitation therapists,
however due to brain drain to foreign countries and private sector, despite the
overwhelming need in the public sector, rehabilitation is limited for persons
with disabilities. Furthermore, the retention of rehabilitation therapists is
Rehabilitation extends beyond the health domain and
includes but is not limited to vocational rehabilitation and psycho-social
Linked to rehabilitation services, is the challenge
faced with regards to providing assistive devices, technology and mobility aids
such as wheelchairs within the public health sector.
Participants highlighted that the Convention is weak on its
identification of transport services as a means of mobilising people with
disabilities to be able to participate in society.
Many of the submissions indicated that there is a lack of accessible
transport for persons with disabilities. In some instances it was noted that
taxis charged persons with disabilities extra for also transporting their
wheelchairs or other assistive devices.
In addition, accessibility to public transport, especially buses and
trains, remained hampered in many areas due to a lack of ramps.
It was highlighted that persons with disabilities should be considered
in the travel chain; from the point of deciding to take a trip and accessing
information on it, to the point of completing a trip and providing feedback on
it. Without the acknowledgment of this whole process, the idea of transport is
reduced to whether a vehicle itself is accessible. There are plenty of examples
of accessible vehicles, but this does not result in an accessible transport
People with disabilities have experienced, and continue to experience,
architectural apartheid all over the world and there is nothing in the
Convention that urges member states to start addressing it.
Participants indicated that unless there are significant changes to the
way settlements and transport are planned and designed, we will not reach the
goals of inclusive employment, education, health, recreations and the other
desired outcomes for persons with disabilities.
strategies and integrated plan
Submissions indicated a need for strategies and
integrated plans that considers and includes the needs of persons with
In addition it is imperative that persons with
disabilities are included in the planning and implementation of these
strategies and plans.
and Inter-Departmental Collaboration
Numerous submissions highlighted that when it came
to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, Departments operated in
silos and that there is an urgent need for better collaboration and synergy
attitudes and stereotypes
Many submissions highlighted that persons with
disabilities experienced discrimination and were often subjected to negative
attitudes, in particular at government departments.
In addition, they are also often ostracised within
their communities and by family members.
There is a need to change perceptions in the way
that communities, families and society at large engage with persons with disabilities.
Special groups intellectual disability, Downs
Submissions were made by organisations and
individuals with a particular focus on intellectual and cognitive disability
It was noted that there was a need to raise the
profile around these issues, and take cognisance of the specific needs and
challenges faced by this target group.
Lack of awareness about UNCRPD
It was highlighted that general awareness about the
Convention and its Optional Protocol was poor and that there is a need to
educate persons in this regard. Special reference was made to educating and
training government officials on the treaty and its articles so as to ensure
better service delivery for persons with disabilities.
At the conclusion
of the public hearings, the relevant Departments and entities were called to
account during August to October 2012 to respond to the issues that emerged at
the public hearings. The following Departments and entities responded to the
the Department of
Public Works; Department of Arts and Culture; Department of Human Settlements,
Department of Communication; Department of Transport; Department of Women,
Children and People with Disabilities; Department of Basic Education; Department
of Higher Education; Department of Police; Department of Social Development;
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Department of Health;
Pan-South African Language Board (
) and the
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Government Departments and entities ensured that the Committees exercised its
oversight over the Executive by ensuring that treaties were complied with. Once
briefings with the Departments and entities were concluded, the Committees
deliberated on the outcomes of the public hearings and the Executive engagement.
Thus this report was compiled which will be tabled and serve as the basis for a
discussion in the House. The report is envisaged to note the key observations
and recommendations for what the Committees suggests as a way forward. The
Committee also had the opportunity to engage with the Department of Women,
Children and People with Disabilities who
responsible for compiling the initial country report on the UNCRPD.
with various Departments and entities revealed that despite South Africa being
a signatory to the Convention awareness about it was poor and there was a lack
of the understanding of what was required to in terms of the obligations for
duty bearers in this case the Executive. Thus the requisite data and
information required to monitor and evaluate progress was either difficult to
ascertain; lacking; absent and outdated. Moreover, with respect to policy
development and implementation; the key concerns related to implementation and
the requisite budget required
effect to the
policy. To this end, the Integrated National Disability Strategy is outdated
and as such ineffectual in guiding the Executive to give effect to the rights
of persons with disabilities in the country. Furthermore, the slow pace of
progress towards the achievement of the 2% target for the employment of persons
with disabilities and inclusive education for children with disabilities
illustrates policy inertia. In addition, the lack of co-ordination, joint
planning and collaboration within Government with respect to giving effect to
the rights of persons with disabilities was also apparent. As such, the role
played by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities in
addressing this was critical.
The Portfolio and Select Committee on Women, Children and Persons with
Disabilities acknowledges the advancements made in the country with respect to
the rights of persons with disabilities. Notwithstanding this, the public
hearings on the implementation of the Convention revealed the major challenges
with the fulfilment, protection and advancement of the rights of persons with
disabilities in South Africa. To this end, Parliament as a duty-bearer of the
rights of persons with disabilities has a crucial role to play in terms of
oversight in this regard.
considered the outcomes of the public hearings and the engagement with various Departments
and entities, the Committees have prioritised the following key recommendations:
Government Departments and
institutions/entities should report to Parliament annually on how it has
mainstreamed disability into its core programmes;
Government Departments and
institutions/entities should report to Parliament annually on what
programmes are rendered to persons with disabilities and the cost
Government Departments and
institutions/entities should report to Parliament annually on progress
with regards to the implementation of the 2% employment equity target.
the Minister should ensure that:
The Department of Women, Children and People with
Disabilities expedites the development of an overarching framework for the
domestication of the Convention in the country, with clear implementation
guidelines, all of which need to be
The Department of Women, Children and People with
Disabilities examines the feasibility of national disability legislation that
will give greater protection to persons with disabilities;
The South African Sign Language is considered as an
official language to be recognised in the Constitution.
must report on progress in this regard; and
Special recognition should be given to categories
of persons with disabilities experiencing multiple forms of discrimination.
Compliance with UNCRPD
Government Departments have a responsibility to
ensure that policies, programmes and service are in line with the Convention.
Parliament would thus ensure that the Executive is held accountable to ensure
that there are reports on the status of compliance in this regard on an annual
Budgeting from a disability rights perspective
should be looked at within Government; and
Disaggregated data is required from respective
Government Departments and entities in order to monitor and evaluate the
outcomes of the provisions within the Convention.
The establishment of an independent statutory
agency in terms of Article 31 and 32 of the Convention in order to monitor and
enforce compliance with legislation should be looked at; and
The Department of Women, Children and People with
Disabilities should lead the process of determining how South Africa would
comply with Article 33 (2).
The Convention should be made available in all
Sign Language Interpreters
should be made available in all Government Departments; and
More efforts are required
to initiate education and awareness programme within Government that focus on
the rights of people with disabilities. The role of the media is an important
stakeholder in this regard and should be utilised.
More efforts are required to ensure that Government
information and delivery of services is made more accessible to persons with
Accessible and safe
transport for children with disabilities needing to attend school, crèche or
stimulation centres requires urgent attention by Government.
Training for state officials in how to make
services more disability friendly by persons with disabilities or family member
of person with disabilities is required.
Specific training should be
done on the South African Sign Language.
Training and capacity of
statutory workers within NGOs and even within Government should be ongoing.
The Department of Basic Education must ensure compliance
with the Convention and by ensuring the expedition of White Paper 6. Inclusive
education must be implemented and resourced accordingly as a priority.
The Department of Women, Children and People with
Disabilities should finalise the audit of special schools and disseminate the findings.
The Department of Higher Education must also
ensure compliance of the Convention by institutions of higher learning and the
Greater synergy is require between the
Department of Basic Education, Higher Education and Labour to better prepare
youth with disabilities to obtain employment but acquiring the requisite
Rehabilitation programmes should be easily
accessible and affordable to all persons with disabilities in the country.
Best practice models such as SACLA Project in
, Western Cape, the CORE training programme of
Hospital in partnership in
, Mpumalanga and IUPHC CBR training in Alexandra
and its satellite project of CREATE in Pietermaritzburg should be looked at to
examine the role of community rehabilitation worker versus the generic or
profession-specific Mid-Level Rehabilitation Worker as a viable option for
rendering community based rehabilitation. All stakeholders including but not
limited to the Department of Health, Social Development, Higher and Basic
Education should work collaboratively in this regard.
The Department of Health must ensure that more
reliable statistics is collated to that would support the development of more realistic
budget for rehabilitation for which assistive devices is but one aspect.
Ring-fencing of the budget should be considered to ensure that funds earmarked
for rehabilitation services are not usurped by other competing programmes.
Research should be encouraged to ensure that
evidence supports the practice.
Providing access to finance for disabled persons
between National Treasury, Trade & Industry, Public Enterprises, Economic
Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Women, Children and Persons with
Disabilities and the National Planning Commission must be better co-ordinated.
All relevant financial sector role players should participate in the
development of such a co-ordinated mechanism.
Parliament must hold to account relevant Government
Departments and entities for facilitating the economic empowerment of persons
with disabilities. To this end, more emphasis should be placed on employment of
persons with disabilities and more stringent compliance of the 2% target.
Child care and protection
Due recognition should be
given to children with disabilities in need of care and protection. To this
end, the funding requirements of statutory workers and services providers
rendering programmes on behalf of the State should be examined and addressed
accordingly. Moreover, places of safety and childrens homes must be accessible
and available to children with disabilities in need of care and protection.
An integrated system is
required between the Department of Basic Education, Health, Social Development,
Justice and Constitutional Development and Police for monitoring children
within the child care protection system but also as an early warning system to
detect abuse and neglect so that matters can be addressed more efficiently.
Justice, Safety and Security
Best practice models such as the Sexual Assault
Victim Empowerment programme (SAVE) should be re-examined and considered for
roll-out to other provinces as a matter of urgency.
The State should train its personnel staff across
the criminal justice system with specific focus on police, prosecutors and
magistrates and it should include disability specific training as well as on
the provision of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters)
Amendment Act 32 of 2007.
Government should partner with civil society where
specialised skills have been developed to deal with people with disabilities.
Closer collaboration is required between Disabled Peoples Organisations and
gender-based violence organisation to improve referral mechanisms.
The Department of Justice and
Constitutional Development should be sensitised to the needs of caregivers and
children with disabilities in court. Moreover, officials within the criminal
justice system should also be sensitised around persons with mental health
concerns/mental illness. Advocacy should be undertaken to review policy to
undertake other measures of justice. Efforts should be made to protect the persons
with disabilities from secondary abuse of the current court system.
Self-representation of people with disabilities at
ward level should be encouraged within local municipalities and compliance with
the 2% target.
should be mainstreamed into the State of the Municipality Address and the
Integrated Development Plan.
should go beyond awareness campaigns and develop programmes for the
implementation in communities.
to be considered.
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