Alice Cruz, who supporters for those diagnosed with the disease of old age, submitted her latest report to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
She cites the physical impairments caused by leprosy, as well as discrimination based on harmful stereotypes surrounding the disease, as the basis for their full admission in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Stigma and exclusion
“Family members of people with leprosy identify themselves as persons with psychosocial disabilities due to stigma and discrimination because of leprosy.
Leprosy – a chronic infectious disease that mainly affects the skin, eyes, upper respiratory tract and peripheral nerves – has been around for thousands of years.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Throughout history, people living with leprosy have often been shunned by their communities and even their families.
Countries can do more
While Ms. Cruz acknowledged progress at the national level in recognizing equality for persons with disabilities, she called on states to do more to effectively implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons. People with disabilities.
The General Assembly adopted the landmark treaty in December 2016 and entered into force two years later.
Ms. Cruz expressed concern that the rights of people with disabilities appear to be limited in the scope of social protection and that decisions about who is entitled to such protection remain largely in the hands of health professionals.
She added: “The recognition of diversity among people with disabilities is limited, and many groups of people with disabilities are more disadvantaged, such as those affected by leprosy and their family members. , is overlooked in the national policy-making process”.
Participate in policy making
Rights experts are also concerned about the limited involvement of people affected by leprosy, and their representative organisations, in institutional issues that concern them.
She also called on countries to step up efforts to protect, promote and realize the rights of people affected by leprosy by recognizing their disability rights and ensuring their participation in planning. policy.
“Countries should consider qualification requirements for social protection to ensure access to persons with intangible and psychosocial disabilities, as well as persons with disabilities living in poverty, acknowledge the additional costs of disability; and ensuring a common basic income for those affected by leprosy,” she advised.
About UN experts
Ms. Cruz was appointed by the UN Dong Nhan Quyen Association buttSpecial Rapporteur on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members.
Her mandate was established in 2017 and extended for another three years in 2020.
The Special Rapporteurs monitor specific human rights situations or thematic issues and serve in their individual capacities.
They are not employees of the United Nations and they are not paid for their work.