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COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES REVIEWS THE REPORT OF LUXEMBOURG

23 August 2017

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Luxembourg on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Presenting the report of Luxembourg, Marc Bichler, Ambassador at Large for Climate Change and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, said that the ratification of the Convention in 2011 had an important impact on the human rights policy in the country.  The support and assistance to persons with disabilities was defined exclusively on the basis of their needs and choices; €5 million had been invested over the last two years to support independent living and inclusion in the community.  The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market was a priority; a new law on inclusion in the world of work, to be introduced later this year, would enable employers to access an external expert to support the professional integration of one or more persons with disabilities, free of charge and for a period of three years.  Accessibility had become a leitmotif in the daily political life in the country which was preparing a draft law on accessibility of public sites and housing; in May 2017, it had been decided to recognize German sign language as an official language.  An area in which Luxembourg was fast approaching the standards set by the Convention was inclusive education: each child had a personalized learning plan and attended mainstream school, unless the parents decided otherwise, and for a number of years, less than one per cent of children with disabilities were educated in special schools.

Fabienne Rossler, Human Rights Consultative Commission of Luxembourg, said that the adoption of the Convention had marked a paradigmatic shift in attitudes towards persons with disabilities, and underlined that the 2012 national action plan contained a number of measures, but there was a long way to go in the implementation of the Convention as those remained insufficient.

Committee Experts noted with concern that the medical approach to disability continued to be deeply rooted in the legal system and practices, and that the focus remained on the lack of capacities rather than on social barriers.  There was no unified definition of disability which allowed for differences in the treatment of persons with disabilities from one institution to another.  Furthermore, Luxembourg continued to limit legal capacity, use the institution of guardianship, and apply substituted decision-making regimes, in clear violation of the Convention, which called for supported decision-making to be applied.  The right to reasonable accommodation was not enshrined in the law and Experts wondered whether its denial constituted a disability-based discrimination.  The delegation was asked to explain how persons with disabilities, women with disabilities and representative organizations of persons with disabilities were consulted and involved in decision-making in all issues of concern; to explain why to date Luxembourg had been unable to create an institution or a mechanism to deal with complaints for discrimination and put in place a data collection system to identify persons vulnerable to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination; access to justice for persons with disabilities, including access to legal aid, interpretation services, and a lawyer; and measures taken to protect persons with disabilities, and in particular women and girls with disabilities, from violence, exploitation and abuse.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Bichler, stressed the high degree of coherence between disability issues and the Sustainable Development Goals in the national planning, and informed the Committee that Luxembourg had presented its report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda to the high-level political forum on sustainable development in New York in July 2017.

Theresia Degener, Committee Chairperson, thanked all for the truly constructive dialogue and hoped that the concluding observations would further help Luxembourg in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The delegation of Luxembourg included representatives of the Ministry of Family, Integration and the Great Region; Ministry of National Education, Childhood and Youth; Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructures; Ministry of Work, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Social Security; State Centre for Information Technologies; Ministry of Justice; and the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today, 23 August, to begin the examination of the initial report of the United Kingdom (CRPD/C/GBR/1). Report

The initial report of Luxembourg can be read here: CRPD/C/LUX/1.

Presentation of the Report

MARC BICHLER, Ambassador at Large for Climate Change and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, said that the ratification of the Convention in 2011 had had a major impact on numerous spheres of national policy in Luxembourg.  Luxembourg played its role as a responsible and reliable partner in the multilateral context and respected the legal framework that defined it, while the Convention was mentioned as a reference and benchmark in the domestic legislation.  An inter-ministerial committee for human rights coordinated the action of the Government in this domain, and it regularly interacted with institutions of the State and civil society organizations.  Each Ministry had appointed a disability contact focal point who was responsible for ensuring the respect of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities in adopted legal or administrative provisions. With regard to the independent living and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the society, Luxembourg stressed that the support and assistance to be provided to persons with disabilities must be defined exclusively on the basis of their needs and choices.  Thus, Luxembourg supported the three forms of housing for persons with disabilities.  Five million euros had been invested over the last two years to provide services to persons with disabilities living independently.  A personalized assistance budget to complement the existing services for persons with disabilities would be established, on a pilot basis, in 2019.  Some €800,000 had been invested to establish homes where families with children with disabilities could live for the first two years and where parents would learn how to care for their children. 

The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market was a priority; at the end of 2017, a new law on inclusion in the world of work would be introduced, which would enable employers to access, free of charge, an external expert to support the professional integration of one or more persons with disabilities, for a period of three years.  In July 2017, the Government had announced a new project: a social and professional orientation centre, co-financed with the European Social Fund, which aimed to assess the skills of job seekers with disabilities.  It would also help them enter the labour market through an eight-week training programme, during which their capacities would be evaluated in the areas of health, physical capacities and capacities for work, resistance to stress and social competences.  At the end of the process, the participants would receive an evaluation which would describe their capacities and aptitudes and would contain recommendations concerning their future orientation.  Accessibility had become a leitmotif in the daily political life in Luxembourg, which was preparing a draft law on accessibility of public sites and housing.  In 2104, the Ministry of Economy had launched a project titled “Tourism for All”, which aimed to increase the awareness of accessibility among the operators.  The National Administration Institute and KLARO, the office for easy to read language, developed courses for State officials and civil servants on editing in easy-to-read format and on the publication of documents in accessible formats.

In May 2017, a new law had been introduced to recognize sign language as an official language; it also recognized the right of children with hearing impairments to study in German sign language.  An area in which Luxembourg was fast approaching the standards set by the Convention was inclusive education, said Mr. Bichler.  Each child had a personalized learning plan and attended mainstream school, unless the parents decided otherwise.  For a number of years, less than one per cent of children with disabilities were educated in special schools.  The special skills centres did not substitute regular education but were there to support children with disabilities.

Statement by the National Human Rights Institution

FABIENNE ROSSLER, Human Rights Consultative Commission of Luxembourg, said that the adoption of the Convention had marked a paradigmatic shift in attitudes towards persons with disabilities and it had enabled a great mobilization of persons with disabilities evidenced by the setting up of an organization of persons with disabilities.  The Government had adopted a National Action Plan in 2012 which contained a number of measures, but there was a long way to go as those remained insufficient.  This was particularly the case in the collection of statistical data which must be the foundation for the development of consistent policies for persons with disabilities as described by the Convention.  It was regrettable that the mechanism for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities had a mandate for the public sector only, and there was no mechanism for complaints of discrimination suffered in the private sector.  The current law on guardianship lacked transparency on the procedure while the amendment of the law announced for 2015 had still not happened.  Luxembourg lacked structures, personnel and specialised consolations to provide services for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Questions from the Committee Experts

COOMARAVEL PYANEANDEE, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur for Luxembourg, recognized the efforts of Luxembourg in implementing the provisions of the Convention and noted with concern that the medical approach to disability was deeply rooted to the legal system and practices in the country.  The focus remained on the lack of capacities rather than on social barriers, while the human rights criteria for the operationalization of the concept of disability were not being applied.

It was of concern that the concept of reasonable accommodation was not legalized and recognized as a right, except in some instances in school.  Did the failure to provide reasonable accommodation constitute disability-based discrimination?

The Committee was concerned that Luxembourg was unable to create an institution or a mechanism to deal with complaints for discrimination, and it lacked the capacity to collect and analyse statistics and data and identify persons vulnerable to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

The law relating to legal capacity dated back to 1982 and had not been amended since then, despite the national plan 2012 to 2016.  How would substituted decision-making be replaced by a supported decision-making regime?

Finally, the Country Rapporteur expressed hope that this dialogue would engender the necessary change and underlined that Luxembourg had the means to translate the dreams of persons with disabilities into reality.

Another Expert noted that there was no unified definition of disability in Luxembourg, which allowed the medical definition to prevail in different institutions, and it underlined differences in approaches to persons with disabilities.  What was being done to adopt a unified definition of disability in line with the Convention?  What measures were being taken to raise awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities among the public, law enforcement officers, judiciary, and others?

The delegation was asked to explain the steps taken to eliminate negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities, media campaigns undertaken to raise awareness about the Convention and persons with disabilities and their rights, and whether universal design was included in the curricula for designers, engineers and architects.

An Exert welcomed that disability-based discrimination in Luxembourg represented a criminal offence and asked about statistics on the number of people charged and sentences delivered.  Were there plans to develop a database on intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination against women with disabilities?

Accessibility was the backbone of the Convention, said an Expert and asked the delegation of Luxembourg about a framework for the application of sanctions for failure to comply with accessibility standards.  How accessible was Luxembourg to wheelchair users?

With regard to the participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, how were they involved in decision-making, and in the drafting of the relevant legislation?  To what extent did the measures in place allow children with disabilities to express their opinion in matters that affected them?

On women with disabilities, a Committee Expert noted the lack of statistics on violence, abuse and multiple discrimination against women and girls with disabilities, and asked how women with disabilities were included and consulted in all aspects of life in the country, especially in the areas of education, employment and family life. 

What was the composition of the National Children’s Bureau and how many children with disabilities were its members?  How many deaf-blind children were there in Luxembourg and were they in school?

The law on guardianship was under review – to what extent were persons with disabilities and their organizations involved in the process?

How much support was being provided by the State to persons with disabilities and their organizations to effectively participate in the Higher Council?

Luxembourg had made great efforts to ensure physical accessibility – how much effort was being invested to make information accessible?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, expressed satisfaction at the intention to ensure that the reform of the guardianship system aimed at preserving the legal capacity of persons with disabilities, but noted with concern that the reform as proposed was not in line with the Convention which sought to replace the substituted decision-making regime with the supported one.  Additionally, it was only associations of lawyers who were involved in the consultations on the reform while the representative organizations of persons with disabilities were left out.

Response by the Delegation The delegation explained that there was no universal definition of disability in the law in Luxembourg, but this would be remedied with an amendment to the law, which would introduce a definition of disability in line with the Convention.

Luxembourg was conscious of the need to ensure a human rights-based approach in the assessment of disability, and this would be a model that would be applied by the social and professional orientation centre, whose establishment had been announced in July 2017.

Various groups of women with disabilities had been created to encourage them and keep them informed on various issues of interest to them.  In 2015, the Ministry of Family had proposed courses in the Life Academy on the right to say no, on physical and verbal defence, and on other issues.  In July 2017, the Government had approved the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence.

A number of studies had been carried out to access how the legal changes impacted physical accessibility; the 2016 and 2017 studies on accessibility of buildings had assessed over 1,700 buildings and had found that 75 per cent were accessible.  The buildings not yet accessible would need to develop accessibility plans in cooperation with the council.  All newly constructed buildings had to be accessible and a certificate of accessibility was issued by an inspector.  State facilities built after 2001 were generally accessible; the problem was that the current law did not address the accessibility of existing buildings, but this gap would be filled by additional provisions which would be included in the new law.

On the participation of civil society, the delegation said that since 1995, the Ministry of Family had been carrying out consultations with civil society on disability policies and had included civil society in the plans for the implementation of the Convention.  The Higher Council for Persons with Disabilities was an important consultative and advisory body, in which persons with disabilities and representative organizations of persons with disabilities participated, particularly in the drafting of laws and policies.  The Higher Council was composed of a number of commissions on various issues of interest to persons with disabilities such as dependency, insurance, accessibility, inclusion in employment, and others.

An Ombuds-Committee on the rights of the child safeguarded the rights and interests of the child, ensured the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and promoted the free expression of children.  The High Council of Youth was an advisory body to the Government on the issues of interest to the youngsters.

The accessibility of the airport was in line with the European regulations, explained the delegation, while the regional network buses were being adapted for sound signals in a project which would be completed by 2018.

Public procurement was being carried out with respect for the accessibility requirements, notably the 2014 European Union directives which encouraged the social insertion of persons with disabilities.  A draft law to implement those directives had been submitted to Parliament whose vote was expected in the fall of 2017.  Persons with disabilities had the right to use sign language, as defined by the law.

On the reform of the guardianship legislation, the delegation said that Luxembourg would adapt its judicial measures on the guardianship of persons to be protected who were adults.  The preparatory work on the reform had started and the Ministry of Justice had met with the representatives of the bar and the representatives of different legal professions and associations representing adults who were under such guardianship.  Thus, the voices and interests of persons with disabilities were well represented in this process, and they were regularly informed about all steps taken by the Government in this context.  The draft law would be submitted for approval to persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.  The reform aimed to increase the autonomy of persons subject to protection orders, with the objective to move away from the current system of three protective measures to a system containing one single measure adapted to each individual case.  Effectively, this would ensure the move to a supported decision-making process.

Everyone who was a victim of discrimination could address the court and demand damages for violations of rights enshrined in the domestic law.

On legal aid, the delegation explained that the system did not distinguish between a persons with disabilities and others, but the criteria for the access to legal aid took into account the income and other financial resources available to the person. 

Each person with disabilities could access the service of a lawyer, including through the legal offices of the Ministry of Justice, available on Saturday from 08.30 to 11.30 a.m.  Additionally, there were several associations which had the right to address the court on behalf of persons with disabilities.  Sign language interpretation was available in the course of court hearings, and the cost was borne by the State.  All court buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities.

All judicial staff and prison officers received training in human rights, which included the rights of persons with disabilities.  The human rights training was a part of the initial training programme that each civil servant had to take.  There were also additional training programmes on disability rights.  Specialized training in all aspects of working with persons with disabilities was offered as well, through training institutions in Germany.

The refusal to provide reasonable accommodation would be defined as prohibited grounds for discrimination in the new law on accessibility, which would be presented to Parliament by the end of 2017.

The draft law on the creation of the psychosocial centre to encourage the inclusion of children with disabilities in school would encourage the creation of child committees in school to represent young people and their views.  There would also be a national representative body of parents of children with disabilities. 

With regard to the training of professionals in contact with persons with disabilities, there was a centre in Luxembourg which provided continuous training to the personnel from the social sector.  The training on disability covered all relevant themes, and there were seminars for persons with disabilities on inclusion, participation of all stakeholders, the role of parents, rights and duties of service users, quality of life, and other topics of interest.

Questions by the Committee Experts

In the next round of questions, the delegation was asked to share with the Committee positive experiences in making historical and cultural sites and buildings accessible. 

How were police officers and other professionals trained in providing support, assistance and rehabilitation to women and children with disabilities who were victims of violence?

Could the delegation describe training provided to personal assistants and explain how the European Union Structural Funds were being used for the deinstitutionalization process and for the funding of support services in the municipalities?

With regard to the provision of personal assistance to persons with disabilities to enable independent living, a Committee Expert asked how Luxembourg would address the pitfalls in the provision of services and ensure that there were no gaps in coverage.

The criminal procedure code guaranteed the right to ensure proceedings in a language that the participants could understand, including sign language interpretation, unless such provisions unduly prolonged the proceedings.  How did this provision play out with regard to deaf and hard of hearing persons and persons with intellectual disabilities?

On the inclusion of persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction, what measures were in place to ensure that they participated in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and what was the position of Luxembourg in relation to the Charter on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action?

How would Luxembourg go about enhancing the participation of persons with disabilities in the justice sector as professionals – judges, lawyers, prosecutors and others, in order to generally increase access to justice through greater understanding of specific issues and challenges that persons with disabilities experienced?

How would the law on domestic violence be revised to better adapt it to the needs of women with disabilities, who had not been the focus of the law when it had been first drafted? 

The delegation was asked about measures in place to assist refugees with disabilities residing in the country and if they could access services on a par with other persons with disabilities, about reasonable accommodation available for persons with intellectual disabilities in the justice system, and about the number of persons with disabilities in sheltered housing units, how long they stayed there, and how many integrated in the community.

COOMARAVEL PYANEANDEE, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur for Luxembourg, remarked that after the adoption of the national action plan in 2012, most of the measures contained therein were not implemented.  How was the concept of procedural accommodation and age appropriate accommodation in the context of the access to justice understood in Luxembourg and implemented in practice?  What measures would be taken to strengthen the powers of the national human rights institution to deal with complaints?  The Committee had received information that many persons with disabilities from Luxembourg were “outsourced” to institutions in other European countries, in violation to article 19 of the Convention – could the delegation comment and explain how it was proceeding with the deinstitutionalization process.

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked how Luxembourg would implement the ban on forced treatment, and how service providers in the field of disability were being monitored.  

Response by the Delegation The delegation explained that the 2016 and 2012 European Union directives on accessibility of publicly available websites were being transposed in the domestic law.

On deaf-blind children, the delegation confirmed that there were no such children in schools at the moment, as the several children who had been diagnosed as deaf-blind were too young and not of schooling age.  Once they reached the age of schooling, they would be integrated in the educational system, mainstream schools or special school depending on the choice of the parents, and they would receive all the necessary support from the State.

Services for women and girls who were victims of violence were in place to support them in times of crises.  They included housing centres and open housing centres, while the advisory centre, managed by the ProFamilia association, provided information and advice to women and their families.  Additionally, the SBL – Women in Distress provided advisory and counselling services to women who were victims of violence and domestic violence.  There was also a shelter for women who were victims of violence that was in a secret location; this women’s house was accessible by the 144 hotline and available 24/7, it provided counselling and listening services to women and girls experiencing violence.

Luxembourg had organized the Open Heritage Day in 2016 under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, while in cooperation with the local municipalities, steps were being taken to ensure the accessibility of historical and cultural heritage sites, and authorities were also using technology to this end.

With regard to the assistance provided by the housing services, the delegation said that the service applied a socio-pedagogical approach and took into account the personal needs of each individual.  To this end, personal education plans and life plans were developed which included their desires, wishes and aspirations, and the staff worked on mobilizing persons with disabilities, particularly persons with intellectual disabilities, to actively engage in the realization of that plan. 

There were three types of housing available to persons with disabilities in Luxembourg.  In recent years, the focus was on independent living and over the past two years €5 million had been invested in the development of this housing and the strengthening of support and assistance services.  It was true that there were still disabled persons living in institutions, mainly due to the lack of adequate housing.  The Government had ordered a representative comprehensive study to assess the housing needs of persons with disabilities in order to better understand the existing situation and what needed to be done to further improve it. 

Measures were being taken to ensure full access of persons with disabilities to sexual and reproductive health education, to increase their knowledge about those issues, and to make them more aware of abuse and exploitation.  Support was available for couples living together, and staff was trained in providing sexual and reproductive health education free of any taboos.

A newly initiated project would see the opening of a mother-father-child centre in 2018, in which families with a child with disabilities could live for two years and where they would learn how to adequately take care of their child.

Complaints and monitoring of institutions were handled by the Centre of Equality of Treatment.  As there were different bodies which had different administrative competences in this regard, there was no intention to enlarge the mandate of the Ombudsman.  With regard to the request by persons with disabilities to create a human rights ombudsman for persons with disabilities living in institutions, the delegation said that most institutions had a Council of Residents which facilitated the relationship between the residents and the management of the institutions, including persons with disabilities.

The Government intended to create a Human Rights House which would bring together different bodies such as the Centre of Equality of Treatment, the Ombudsman and other relevant bodies, encourage them to develop synergies, create a common secretariat and collectively gather data.  Those institutions would also be attached to the legislative branch.  The budget of the Centre of Equality of Treatment was allocated by the Ministry of Finance on the basis of activities and projects that the Centre proposed.  Its budget, including for disability-related activities, was being constantly increased, despite the economic and financial crisis.  It was possible that in the fall 2017, the Centre would come under the legislative branch and would then negotiate its budget with the Chamber of Deputies.

In cooperation with the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, disaster and emergency management plans had been developed, which also included evacuation.  All emergency messages were sent in accessible formats by mobile phones and were transmitted through other media as well.  By the end of 2017, deaf and hard of hearing would be able to receive PUSH messages.  Plans had been developed for the management of heat waves, which called for the launch of public awareness campaigns to alert the public.

The Life Academy worked as a discussion forum for persons with disabilities.  They decided themselves which subjects they wished to discuss, and participation was on a voluntary basis.  Luxembourg was a very small country and all persons with disabilities knew of the Life Academy and other services for persons with disabilities, and could access them.

Luxembourg had been able to really improve access to university training for persons with disabilities.  In the academic year 2016-2017, among the 6,200 students, 59 were persons with disabilities, including persons with intellectual disabilities.  Registering a disability was not mandatory; thus it was believed that the real number of persons with disabilities studying in Luxembourg was actually higher.

Providing further responses on questions raised concerning access to justice for persons with disabilities, a delegate said that a person with intellectual disabilities had the right to use an interpreter and easy-to-understand language to assist during court proceedings.  In March 2017, the Code of Criminal Procedure had clarified that all persons with disabilities had the right to an interpreter as long as there was no undue prolongation of the trial – the decision on the “undue prolongation of the trial” was made by the police or by a judge if the trial was at that stage.  This provision originated from the European Union directives and its inclusion in domestic legislation was thus mandatory.

It was important to note a distinction in Luxembourg between legal aid in the form of financial assistance provided by a State and a legal assistance in the form of a lawyer.  Everyone had the right to a lawyer, which was provided upon a request to a bar association, and this of course included persons with disabilities.  Additionally, the Infohandicap association had legal services which could be used by any person with disabilities free of charge.

On domestic violence and the possibility of introducing special legal provisions for the protection of women with disabilities, the delegation said that Luxembourg had decided to ratify the Istanbul Convention which envisaged different measures to assist women and girls with disabilities in the context of domestic violence.  An information brochure was being made available to victims of violence, which contained information about services available.  Under the Istanbul Convention, children who witnessed domestic violence also received the status of victims, which carried certain rights and enabled access to services.  Also, female genital mutilation would be criminalized, which would provide additional protection to women and girls with disabilities.  The collection of statistics on domestic violence would also be undertaken, which would enable a better response to domestic violence and improve support for the victims. 

Luxembourg had also decided to ratify the Oviedo Convention to better protect the physical integrity of everyone, including persons with disabilities. 

Starting 16 November 2017, the trafficking in persons legislation would also include a plan of action for better protection of persons, while the draft law on prostitution would punish the clients rather than the prostitutes which would improve the protection for women and girls and facilitate the exit from the situation of exploitation.

With regard to forced hospitalization, the delegation explained that it was authorised and governed by the law.  The legislation governed the administration criteria, control mechanisms and managed complaints, and it related to persons who were a danger to themselves or others as a result of a psychiatric disorder.  All psychiatric illness had to be diagnosed and medically certified.  Hospitalization without consent must follow certain medical criteria and was adapted to the person.  The person or their representative must be consulted prior to any treatment, while according to the 2014 law, each patient received, upon admission, an information sheet on a patient’s rights and duties and was informed how complaints could be submitted.

An exceptional measure in a form of financial assistance would be introduced in 2018 to support persons with disabilities living at home to access services which were not publicly available where they lived.  This would include for example persons with neuro-degenerative illnesses or metabolic diseases which required round-the-clock care, and would aim to support the life in dignity for persons with disabilities according to their choice.  There would be eligibility criteria and the ceiling for the amount provided.

The social security contributions for a career of a person with disabilities were subsidized by the State.

In 2015-2016 school year, there were 113 children or youth with disabilities in special education institutions abroad; half were there voluntarily and half by a court order following a stay in a juvenile psychiatric institution.  Luxembourg was taking steps to develop its capacities and competences to ensure that children with disabilities could receive education and professional training in the country.

Finally, the delegation reassured the Committee that the situation of persons with disabilities was included as a cross-cutting issue in the humanitarian assistance and international cooperation.

Questions by the Committee Experts

Taking the floor to open the final round of questions, a Committee Expert thanked Luxembourg for officially recognizing the German sign language and asked whether sign language interpretation was used by students and if so, to what extent and who paid for it. 

Which body was in charge of planning the conduct of elections and how was the full participation of persons with disabilities included?  Was there an additional budget available to support electoral campaigns by persons with disabilities?

What support was available for children with disabilities to actively participate in sport and develop their cultural and intellectual capacities?

The delegation was asked to explain how health care was accessible to persons with disabilities, both in terms of physically accessing the facilities, as well as accessing information, medicines and devices; and to explain how the rights of persons with disabilities were mainstreamed in the national plan for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

On inclusive education, Experts asked about the number of mainstreamed schools which offered inclusive education and the number of special schools.  What method was being used to determine whether a child with disabilities would attend mainstream or special school and which support services were necessary?  Could mainstream schools refuse to enrol a child with disabilities? 

What services and support were available to employees with disabilities and to those with children with disabilities, to balance work and family lives?

Another Expert asked about measures taken to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in the Higher Council for Disabilities.  What was the legal status of accessibility in the area of information and communication?

On the political participation of persons with disabilities, were there any persons with disabilities who were elected officials and how the Government encouraged the political participation of persons with disabilities?

The European Union had finally decided to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, which would probably happen next year – was Luxembourg ready for the implementation of the Treaty?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked how the issue of disability would be included in the ongoing constitutional reform, how the services and shelters for victims of violence were accessible to women with disabilities, and how women with disabilities – particularly those with intellectual disabilities living in State care – could access contraceptives.

Response by the Delegation In the framework of the ratification of the Oviedo Convention, forced sterilization would be prohibited.  The draft bill was still being evaluated and had not yet been submitted to the Council.

Luxembourg had decided to recognize German sign language as an official language, in line with the European Union recommendation to officially recognize the sign language used by the population.  The draft law was before the Chamber of Deputies.

In response to questions raised about inclusive education, the delegation stressed that all newly built schools were accessible.  There were 12 special schools, of which seven were for intellectual disabilities, one for the blind, one for deaf and hard of hearing, one for autism, one for social or emotional development and one for motor development.  In total, 757 students with disabilities were supported and they were in mainstream schools, and of those 634 assisted by multidisciplinary teams.  In 2016, there were 918 pupils in specialized schools and centres. 

Education in Luxembourg was guided by two key principles: mandatory schooling for each child and schooling in mainstream schools as a rule.  Specific procedures had to be followed to enrol the child in a special school.  Based on the specific situation of a child with disabilities, and taking into account pedagogical concerns, schooling authorities made a proposal on the placement of the child in a special or mainstream school, with the final decision made by the parents. 

The European Union and the European Court of Justice had decided to transpose the Marrakesh Treaty in the community law.  The European Union had issued a directive to that effect, which had to be transposed into domestic legislation.

Concluding Remarks

MARC BICHLER, Ambassador at Large for Climate Change and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, in his closing statement, stressed the high degree of coherence between disability issues and the Sustainable Development Goals in the national planning.  The report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda had been presented to the high-level political forum on sustainable development in New York in July 2017, and it contained multiple references as regard to the situation of persons with disabilities.  The Luxembourg Development Cooperation was adopting a participatory approach and was actively involving communities in the identification of needs and implementation of the projects.

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, thanked all for the truly constructive dialogue and hoped that the concluding observations would further help Luxembourg in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

For use of the information media; not an official record

CRPD17/018E

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