Agenda 4: Rights of Indigenous Peoples with Disabilities (IPWDs)

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9th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
11 – 15 July 2016

Presented by:Pratima Gurung

Thank you, Mr.Chairman,

On behalf of the Asia Caucus, I would like to presentour statement on the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities (IPWDs).

We would like EMRIP to know that most indigenous peoples with disabilities are not able to exercise and fully enjoy their rights according to the stipulations of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(CRPD).

Indigenous peoples are already at the margins of society in general. Indigenous peoples with disabilities are even worst off and are suffering from further marginalization and multiple forms of discrimination based on their ethnicity, disability, gender and geographic location. Findings of the existing studies available coincide on the existence of higher prevalence rate of disability in indigenous communities. However, there is insufficient information and research on the situation of IPWDS globally. Existing reports indicate that indigenous persons/peoples are more likely to face socio-economic and cultural exclusion and isolation due to high level of poverty, increased exposure to environmental degradation caused by dam-constructions or mining activities, and higher risk of violence and abuse, including gender-based violence. Further, we are also excluded in policies and programs, which result inter alia in lack of access to community services, poor health, limited access to training, skills development, livelihood support and educational opportunities. We are also in worst off in times of accidents, conflicts and disasters, not to mention that delivery of needed services and assistance to victims of disaster is discriminatory to disabled peoples. The case of Nepal during the earthquake is an example whereby the number of indigenous persons with disability suffered severely. Similarly, the emerging issues of climate change, situation in disaster and conflict, emerging health hazards, development programs and many other issues have made IPWDs issues more urgent and alarming.

Likewise, many indigenous persons with disabilities are further affected by the legacy of colonization through forced assimilation, dispossession of land resources, loss of language and intergenerational psychological trauma resulting from being taken away from their families and communities and are forced to live in non-indigenous homes, residential schools or institutions. Indigenous persons with disabilities are subjected to multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination. Their dignity, integrity and autonomy is not recognized and their voices are absent, unheard and excluded in many state frameworks, and even within indigenous, disability and women framework.

Mr. Chairperson, here are our specific recommendations to EMRIP:

  1. Establish a mechanism to assess and monitor the situation of the protection of indigenous children and youth, women, elders, and indigenous persons with disabilities in accordance with relevant international human rights standards, in particular the UNDRIP, UNCRPD, UNCEDAW and others.
  2. Encourage states to hasten the adoption of necessary policies and follow the various recommendationsof the CRPD committee and take some special measures and programs for improving the lives of indigenous persons with disabilities and ensure that they gain the same quality lifeas any others
  3. Provide special services and facilities that are culturally appropriate to indigenous persons with dis-abilities, particularly their access to education, health services, skills development among others, to enable their full participation community and societal affairs, independence and overall wellbeing.
  4. Conduct a study to address the insufficient information on the diverse nature and intersectional discrimination IPWDs face. Disaggregated data, with the effective consultation and participation of IPWDs,is needed to properly grasp our situation and identify our specific needs.
  5. Encouragemulti-sectorial and multi–agency efforts of the different mechanisms such as UNPFII, EMRIP, CRPD committee to include representation of IPWDs at all levels to address the provided recommendations and address the structural and social barrier faced by IPWDs both in private and public sphere
  6. Develop a comprehensive framework to address IPWDs primary needs like accessibility (physical, environmental, cultural), access to services and participation at all levels and frame the urgent issues like disaster, climate change, livelihood and others.

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Click here to download the statement.