as delivered by Flacelia Celsula, U.S Delegation to the HRC
Human Rights Council 37th Session
Geneva, March 6, 2018
Thank you Mr. President,
The United States would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities for her report. We also want to thank the Independent Expert for her work on Albinism. The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in DPRK.
We appreciate that the DPRK’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the regime’s willingness to facilitate the Special Rapporteur’s visit suggest that there may be interest in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. However, the Special Rapporteur’s report highlights egregious policies and practices towards persons with disabilities that are consistent with the DRPK’s overall abuses and violations of human rights.
As the Rapporteur described in her report, the DPRK’s policies and programs towards disabled persons are all centered on the medical model of disability, which focuses on keeping people with disabilities in segregated settings and not treating them on an equal basis with others. This perpetuates stigma and discrimination. Even more disturbingly, the Rapporteur received multiple reports of forced abortion, sterilization of women with disabilities, and infanticide of children born with disabilities.
Regarding the protection of persons with disabilities, the report notes that the DPRK gives preferential treatment to “honored ex-soldiers with disabilities and people with disabilities who have performed meritorious services for socialist construction” in the areas of better housing and jobs opportunities, and access to health care facilities exclusively for them. The SR recommends, and the United States supports, expanding the coverage of benefits and services beyond ex-soldiers and those who have performed meritorious services for socialist construction to all persons with disabilities, including people with intellectual, psychosocial, and severe disabilities as well as little people.
The Special Rapporteur was prevented from meeting with people with psychosocial disabilities which raises further concerns about their status and treatment by the DPRK regime.
Special Rapporteur Devandas, given the DPRK’s willingness to facilitate your visit, making you the first UN human rights mandate holder to visit North Korea, do you see continued dialogue on this issue as an opportunity to improve the human rights situation there, including for persons with disabilities?