Russia must reform its laws and practices in order to prevent discrimination and unfair treatment of disabled persons in the country, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] official said [news release] Friday. President Dmitry Medvedev [official website] signed [press release] a federal law ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) [text] on Thursday. Shantha Rau Barriga, an HRW advocate, said it is important for Russia to implement changes quickly to prevent further inequities. Currently, Russian buildings are not required to provide handicap-accessible entrances, and just 2% of schools integrate disabled children into general education programs. The CRPD is designed to eliminate a broad range of discriminatory practices that limit the freedom and opportunities of disabled persons. Russia must submit legal documents to the UN in order to complete its ratification of the CRPD.
In March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on all nations [JURIST report] to ensure that people with disabilities are given equal "enjoyment of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights." Pillay's statements came at the Human Rights Council's annual discussion on rights of people with disabilities. Pillay said that ratification of the CRPD was important, but mere ratification was not enough. To date, the CRPD has been ratified by 109 states and its Optional Protocol has been ratified by 66 states. The UN General Assembly adopted the convention [JURIST report] in December 2006 as the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century.