Monday, December 7, 2015

Attorneys; authority to appear for client; effect of death of client.





A.C. No. 7325 January 21, 2015 
DR. DOMICIANO F. VILLAHERMOSA, SR., Complainant, 
vs.
ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL, Respondent. 
R E S O L U T I O N 
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: 



“x x x. 

The Rules of Court under Rule 138, Section 21 provides for a presumption of a lawyer’s appearance on behalf of his client, hence: 


SEC. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. – An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney isrequired to authorize him to appear in court for his client, butthe presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney willfully appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contemptas an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. (Emphases supplied) 




In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Dev’t. Co.,21 this Court said that while a lawyer is not required to present proof of his representation, when a court requires that he show such authorization, it is imperative that he show his authority to act. Thus: 


A lawyer is not even required to present a written authorization from the client. In fact, the absence of a formal notice of entry of appearance will not invalidate the acts performed by the counsel in his client’s name. However, [a] court, on its own initiative or on motion of the other party may require a lawyer to adduce authorization from the client.22



Lawyers must be mindful that an attorney has no power to act as counsel for a person without being retained nor may he appear in court without being employed unless by leave of court.23 If an attorney appears on a client’s behalf without a retainer or the requisite authority neither the litigant whom he purports to represent nor the adverse party may be bound or affected by his appearance unless the purported client ratifies or is estopped to deny his assumed authority.24 If a lawyer corruptly or willfully appears as an attorney for a party toa case without authority, he may be disciplined or punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transaction.25

We must also take into consideration that even if a lawyer is retained by a client, an attorney-client relationship terminates upon death of either client or the lawyer.26

Here, Atty. Caracol was presumed to have authority when he appeared in the proceedings before the DARAB. The records are unclear at what point his authority to appear for Efren was questioned. Neither is there any indication that Villahermosa in fact questioned his authority during the course of the proceedings. 

However, Atty. Caracol knew that Efren had already passed away at the time he filed the Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition. As an honest, prudent and conscientious lawyer, he should have informed the Court of his client’s passing and presented authority that he was retained by the client’s successors-in-interest and thus the parties may have been substituted.27

We also note the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz in People v. Mendoza28 where he stated: 

I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably upon the adviceof his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem that this lawyer was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime the man did no[t] commit. As the ponenciaobserves, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no evidence against him – presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have been implicated." 

It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an incredible lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was apparently willing, without any moral compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison. 

The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause.1รขwphi1 The defense counsel in this case did not seem to appreciate this responsibility when he prodded Magalop to plead guilty and waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf.29

While this observation does not serve to exacerbate Atty. Caracol’s liability under the present circumstances, we would like to highlight the important role of an attorney in our judicial system. Because of the particular nature of an attorney’s function it is essential that they should act with fairness, honesty and candor towards the courts and his clients.30 Under Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: 

A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. 

This flows out from the lawyer's oath which each lawyer solemnly swears to uphold the law and court processes in the pursuit of justice. Thus, a lawyer must be more circumspect in his demeanor and attitude towards the public in general as agents of the judicial system. 

Here, Atty. Caracol, as observed by the IBP CBD, has been less than candid about his representation. We also observe that he has used underhanded means to attain his purpose. Atty. Caracol's blatant disregard of his duties as a lawyer cannot be countenanced. In view of his actions of contravening his lawyer's oath and in violation of Canons 8 and 10 and Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility we deem it proper to suspend him from the practice of law for a period of one year. 

X x x.” 









Whoever acts as Notary Public must ensure that the parties executing the document be present. Otherwise, their participation with respect to the document cannot be acknowledged. Notarization of a document in the absence of the parties is a breach of duty.



SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 5482 February 10, 2015
JIMMY ANUDON and JUANITA ANUDON, Complainants, 
vs.
ATTY. ARTURO B. CEFRA, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
LEONEN, J.:


“x x x.

Whoever acts as Notary Public must ensure that the parties executing the document be present. Otherwise, their participation with respect to the document cannot be acknowledged. Notarization of a document in the absence of the parties is a breach of duty.

X x x.

The notarization of documents ensures the authenticity and reliability of a document. As this court previously explained:

Notarization of a private document converts such document into a public one, and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity. Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and appended to a private instrument. Notarization is not an empty routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest in a substantial degree and the protection of that interest requires preventing those who are not qualified or authorized to act as notaries public from imposing upon the public and the courts and administrative offices generally.45 (Citation omitted)

The earliest law on notarization is Act No. 2103.46 This law refers specifically to the acknowledgment and authentication of instruments and documents. Section 1(a) of this law states that an acknowledgment "shall be made before a notary public or an officer duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act is done."

The 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice reiterates that acknowledgments require the affiant to appear in person before the notary public. Rule II, Section 1 states:

SECTION 1. Acknowledgment.—"Acknowledgment" refers to an act in which an individual on a single occasion:

(a) appears in person before the notary public and presents and integrally complete instrument or document;

(b) is attested to be personally known to the notary public or identified by the notary public through competent evidence of identity as defined by these Rules; and

(c) represents to the notary public that the signature on the instrument or document was voluntarily affixed by him for the purposes stated in the instrument or document, declares that he has executed the instrument or document as his free and voluntary act and deed, and, if he acts in a particular representative capacity, that he has the authority to sign in that capacity. (Emphasis supplied)

Rule IV, Section 2(b) states further:

SEC. 2. Prohibitions.—. . .

(b) A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as signatory to the instrument or document—

(1) is not in the notary’s presence personally at the time of the notarization; and

(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified by the notary public through competent evidence of identity as defined by these Rules.

The rules require the notary public to assess whether the person executing the document voluntarily affixes his or her signature. Without physical presence, the notary public will not be able to properly execute his or her duty under the law. In Gamido v. New Bilibid Prisons Officials,47 we stated that "[i]t is obvious that the party acknowledging must . . . appear before the notary public[.]"48 Furthermore, this court pronounced that:

[a] document should not be notarized unless the persons who are executing it are the very same ones who are personally appearing before the notary public. The affiants should be present to attest to the truth of the contents of the document and to enable the notary to verify the genuineness of their signature. Notaries public are enjoined from notarizing a fictitious or spurious document. In fact, it is their duty to demand that the document presented to them for notarization be signed in their presence. Their function is, among others, to guard against illegal deeds.49 (Citations omitted)

Notarization is the act that ensures the public that the provisions in the document express the true agreement between the parties. Transgressing the rules on notarial practice sacrifices the integrity of notarized documents. It is the notary public who assures that the parties appearing in the document are the same parties who executed it. This cannot be achieved if the parties are not physically present before the notary public acknowledging the document.

Atty. Cefra claims that Jimmy and Juanita wanted to sell their land. Even if this is true, Jimmy and Juanita, as vendors, were not able to review the document given for notarization. The Deed of Absolute Sale was brought to Atty. Cefra by Paran’s representatives, who merely informed Atty. Cefra that the vendors signed the document. Atty. Cefra should have exercised vigilance and not just relied on the representations of the vendee.

It is possible that the terms and conditions favorable to the vendors might not be in the document submitted by the vendee for notarization. In addition, the possibility of forgery became real.

In Isenhardt v. Atty. Real,50 Linco v. Atty. Lacebal,51 Lanuzo v. Atty. Bongon,52 and Bautista v. Atty. Bernabe,53 the respondent notaries were all guilty of notarizing documents without the presence of the parties. In Linco, Lanuzo, and Bautista, the respondents notarized documents even if the persons executing those documents were already dead at the time of notarization. In Bautista, the respondent, like Atty. Cefra, also allowed another individual to sign on behalf of another despite lack of authorization.54 In these cases, this court imposed the penalty of disqualification as notaries for two (2) years and suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year.

In the recent case of De Jesus v. Atty. Sanchez-Malit,55 the respondent lawyer notarized 22 public documents even without the signatures of the parties on those documents.56 This court suspended the respondent-lawyer from the practice of law for one (1) year and perpetually disqualified her from being a notary public.57

X x x.”

Justice reform in the Philippines - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman)



See - Justice reform | Cebu Business, The Freeman Sections, The Freeman | philstar.com


"x x x.

Specific proposals aimed at developing the Philippine judicial system include the following:

* The recent bills filed by the House Committee on Justice in relation to the enactment of a Whistleblower Act and strengthening the Witness Protection law should be passed by the 16th Congress without delays.

* The salaries of prosecutors and members of the judiciary should be made more competitive by removing the DOJ, Office of the Ombudsman, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and Supreme Court from the Government Salary Standardization Act.

* The Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Audit should be enabled to receive a reasonable percentage from the national budget without having to “lobby” for their financial resource allocation with people that they are potentially investigating.

* There should be an effective mechanism to aggressively investigate judges suspected of corruption and pursue legal and administrative actions once offense is established.

* Responsive procedures for business disputes should be established.

* Specialized courts for cases related to business and intellectual property rights should be created.

* Consistency between local ordinances and national policies should be ensured.

* The Supreme Court should consider expanding its use of amici curiae, providing information on the implications of decisions on the economy and business, before decisions are made.

* All judicial vacancies must be filled expeditiously.

* The competency of public lawyers and judges should be further improved through continuous trainings and capacity-building seminars.

* An inventory of laws should be created with the aim to identify laws that have become redundant and have them eliminated.

x x xx."

Asia: Criminal justice processes incapable of ending torture - World | ReliefWeb

See - Asia: Criminal justice processes incapable of ending torture - World | ReliefWeb





"x x x.

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the international day in support of victims of torturen
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has over the past 15 years documented close to 3,000 cases of torture from Asia. Most of these cases are reported through AHRC's Urgent Appeals Programme by partner organisations working in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Philippines, and Thailand.
Having documented and closely followed each of these cases, and thereafter having used them to study the nuances of the legal processes, the AHRC is of the opinion that the criminal justice apparatus in these countries, the procedures followed by related institutions, and the promulgated legislations, are unfit to end torture.
For instance, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Philippines are countries that have specific laws that criminalise torture. However, there are less than 15 cases decided in these countries wherein torture perpetrators have been adequately punished in relation to the nature of the crimes committed. None of these countries have a standardised legal precedence that ensures adequate compensation to victims of torture. In countries that lack a law that criminalises torture, the situation is worse.
The AHRC is of the opinion that torture will not end by merely criminalising the act, though legislation is an important step forward. For instance, none of the countries named above have investigation agencies equipped and trained to undertake scientific crime investigation. In fact, modernising crime investigation is not a priority for any of these governments. Chances are, without domestic and international pressure, it will remain so.
The engagement -- domestic, bilateral, and international -- made with governments in these countries are not adequate to encourage structural improvement in criminal justice processes. Too much effort is spent on training and sensitising law enforcement agencies on torture, with an expectation that such assistance will help state agencies end torture. What is forgotten is that despite all the best training and lectures law enforcement agencies in these countries may receive, the officers have to return, work, and put to practice their new learning in the same old limited institutional framework that persists in the apparatus across these countries.
For instance, in Nepal, considerable resources have been spent on training police officers, to assist them end the widespread practice of torture there. However, the government of Nepal is unable to allocate sufficient resources to even build police stations, provide vehicles to officers, or to have adequate number of officers to undertake investigation of crimes. Scientific crime investigation in Nepal is impossible, since the country doesn’t have adequate forensic facilities or professionals to utilize the same.
Conditions, however, are different in countries like India, where there is no dearth of financial resources. India is one of the richer countries of the world. However, the spending on reforming police, or in providing for the country's judiciary to have adequate infrastructure to end decades-long delays is virtually nothing.
In Pakistan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, human rights defenders who work against torture are subjected to harsh treatment by the state. In Pakistan, even lawyers accepting briefs on behalf of victims of torture are not safe, and some have even been murdered. In Bangladesh, the incumbent government is on an over drive to purge anyone who documents or reports state-sponsored violence, for which it receives unconditional support from the country's judiciary.
Torture is violence committed upon the society by the state. Having no resources spent on reforming the criminal justice process means that the state actively participates in perpetuating violence in the society. Hence states in Asia use torture as an instrument for social control, imparted through fear and violence. This must be exposed, questioned, and ended.
Unfortunately, there is insufficient domestic or international effort to understand the complexity of torture that is being committed in Asia, as a crime in which the Asian states continue to play an active role. Instead, emphasis is on setting up national or regional human rights institutions to address torture and other human rights issues of Asia, as if these ombudsmen like institutions could replace the police and the judiciary and ensure justice.
To end torture in Asia, the Asian civil society must be encouraged and supported to work on the nuances of the criminal justice processes. Widespread prevalence of torture indicates the absence of fair trial guarantees in a country. Absence of fair trial cannot coexist with human rights expectations and promises. So, working against torture is also a strong means to improve human rights standards in any country.
June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is occasion to rekindle the spirit of human rights in Asia. It is equally the responsibility of domestic as well as international actors to assist the Asian people to realise human rights guarantees.
For further details, contact in Hong Kong: Mr. Bijo Francis, ahrc@ahrc.asia

#

About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
x x x."

Katarungang Pambarangay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia





"x x x.

Katarungang Pambarangay
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Katarungang Pambarangay, or the Barangay Justice System is a local justice system in the Philippines. It is operated by the smallest of the local government units, the barangay, and is overseen by the barangay captain, the highest elected official of the barangay and its executive.[1] The barangay captain sits on the Lupon Tagapamayapa along with other barangay residents, which is the committee that decides disputes and other matters. They do not constitute a court as they do not have judicial powers.[2]

The system exists to help decongest the regular courts and works mostly as "alternative, community-based mechanism for dispute resolution of conflicts,"[1] also described as a "compulsory mediation process at the village level."[3]

Throughout the Philippines the Barangay Justice Systems handles thousands of cases a year.[4] Since officials have more flexibility in decision-making, including from complex evidence rules, and receive some resources from government, the courts are more numerous and accessible than other courts and therefore the courts are able to hear more cases and to respond more immediately.[4]

The Katarungang Pambarangay share characteristics with similar traditional, hybrid courts in other countries such as the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa, among others.[5] Such courts emerged during colonial periods as Western imperial powers introduced western legal systems.[5] The Western legal systems were usually applied to westerners while the local dispute resolution systems were integrated into the Western system in a variety of ways including incorporation of local decision makers into the government in some way.[5] After independence, many states faced the same problems as their former rulers, especially "limited geographical reach of state institutions, Western-modeled institutions often divorced from community structures and expectations, and resource constraints in the justice sector."[5] Hybrid courts became a "middle ground for supporting community decision-making while simultaneously expanding the authority and reach of the state."[5]

Besides "hybrid courts", other authors have described the system as a "Non-State Justice System".[6]


History[edit]

There has long been a traditional, local system of resolving disputes. Presidential Decree 1508 talks an unofficial "time-honored tradition of amicably settling disputes among family and barangay members at the barangay level without judicial resources".[7]

Alfredo Flores Tadiar was the principal author of Presidential Decree 1508, The Katarungang Pambarangay Law,[8] and he also wrote its implementing rules, requiring prior conciliation as a condition for judicial recourse.[citation needed] For 12 years (1980–1992), he was a member of the Committee of Consultants, Bureau of Local Government Supervision, which oversaw the nationwide operations of the Katarungang Pambarangay Law.[citation needed] Under the decree, the body was known as Lupong Tagapayapa .[7]

This decree was replaced by the Local Government Code of 1991.
Operation, rules and procedures[edit]

The Lupon Tagapamayapa is the body that comprises the barangay justice system and on it sit the baranagy captain and 10 to 20 members.[9] The body is normally constituted every three years and holds office until a new body is constituted in the third year.[9] They receive no compensation except honoraria, allowances and other emoluments as authorized by law or barangay, municipal or city ordinance.[9]

Almost all civil disputes and many crimes with potential prison sentences of less than one year or fines less than 5,000 Philippine pesos are subjected to the system.[10][9] In barangays where a majority of members belong to an indigenous people of the Philippines, traditional dispute mechanisms such as a council of elders may replace the barangay judicial system.[9]

Upon receipt of the complaint, the chairman to the committee, most often the barangay captain, shall the next working day inform the parties of a meeting for mediation.[9] If after 15 days for the first meeting, the mediation is not successful then a more formal process involving the pangkat or body must be followed.[9] There is another 15 day period to resolve the dispute through this more formal process, extendable by the pangkat for yet another 15 day period.[9] If not settlement has been reached, then a case can be filed in the regularjudicial system of the Philippines.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]
^ Jump up to:a b "KATARUNGANG PAMBARANGAY" (PDF). Legal Advisories. Philippine National Police. July 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
Jump up^ Clark, Samuel, and Matthew Stephens (2011). Reducing Injustice? A Grounded Approach to Strengthening Hybrid Justice Systems: Lessons from Indonesia. Traditional Justice: Practitioners’ Perspectives WORKING PAPERS series (PDF). International Development Law Organization (IDLO). p. 5. For example, the Philippines’ compulsory mediation process at the village level, known as the Barangay Justice system,...
^ Jump up to:a b Chapman, Peter. "Hybrid Courts in East Asia & Pacific: A recipe for success?". "East Asia & Pacific on the rise" blog. The World Bank. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
^ Jump up to:a b c d e Chapman, Peter. "History of Hybrid Courts in East Asia & Pacific: A ‘best fit’ approach to justice reform?". "East Asia & Pacific on the rise" blog. The World Bank. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
Jump up^ Golub, S (2003). "'Non-state Justice Systems in Bangladesh and the Philippines'". Department for International Development, London. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
^ Jump up to:a b "PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1508". The LAWPhil Project. Retrieved 16 December2013.
^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Tibaldo, Art (April 15, 2013). "Settlement of Conflicts in the Barangay (1st of two parts)". Sun-Star Baguio. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
Jump up^ "Circular No. 14-93 : Guidelines on the Katarungang Pambarangay procedure". Supreme Court Administrative Circular. lawphil.net. July 15, 1993. External link in |publisher= (help)
External links[edit]
The Katarungang Pambarangay Handbook from the website of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Office No. 5. For an online version go toScribd.com

This page was last modified on 23 May 2015, at 23:01.

x x x."

Reforming Pakistan's Criminal Justice System - International Crisis Group



"x x x.

Reforming Pakistan’s Criminal Justice System
Asia Report N°1966 Dec 2010

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The ineffectiveness of Pakistan’s criminal justice system has serious repercussions for domestic, regional and international security. Given the gravity of internal security challenges, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government in Islamabad, and the four provincial governments should make the reform of an anarchic criminal justice sector a top domestic priority.
The low conviction rate, between 5 and 10 per cent at best, is unsurprising in a system where investigators are poorly trained and lack access to basic data and modern investigation tools. Prosecutors, also poorly trained, are not closely involved in investigations. Corruption, intimidation and external interference in trials, including by the military’s intelligence agencies, compromise cases before they even come to court. Given the absence of scientific evidence collection methods and credible witness protection programs, police and prosecutors rely mostly on confessions by the accused, which are inadmissible in court. Militants and other major criminals are regularly released on bail, or their trials persist for years even as they plan operations from prison. Terrorism cases, too, produce few convictions.
The failure of prosecutors to achieve convictions in major cases, such as the June 2008 Danish embassy bombing, the September 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad, and the March 2009 attack on a police academy in Lahore, has weakened public confidence in the state’s ability to respond to terrorism. Despite the increasing urgency of reform, Pakistan’s police, and indeed the whole criminal justice system, still largely functions on the imperative of maintaining public order rather than tackling 21st century crime.
A military-led counter-terrorism effort, defined by haphazard and heavy-handed force against some militant networks, short-sighted peace deals with others, and continued support to India and Afghanistan-oriented jihadi groups, has yielded few successes. Instead, the extremist rot has spread to most of the country. The military’s tactics of long-term detentions, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings provoke public resentment and greater instability, undermining the fight against violent extremism.
Wresting civilian control over counter-terrorism policy, a key challenge of the current democratic transition, will require massive investments in police and prosecutors, specifically to enhance investigative capacity and case building. Successes in combating serious crime, including kidnappings-for-ransom and sectarian terrorism, during the democratic transition of the 1990s demonstrate that civilian law enforcement agencies can be effective when properly authorised and equipped. With the scale of violence far greater today, the government needs all the more to utilise political and fiscal capital to modernise the criminal justice sector.
Criminal justice cannot, however, be isolated from the broader challenges of the democratic transition. The repeated suspension of the constitution by military regimes, followed by extensive reforms to centralise power and to strengthen their civilian allies, notably the religious right, have undermined constitutionalism and the rule of law. General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamisation of the constitution and laws during the 1980s altered the basic structure of parliamentary democracy, introduced religious, sectarian and gender biases into law and made the violation of fundamental rights not just common practice but a matter of state policy. As a result, Pakistan moved farther and farther away from international standards of justice. The current parliament has, through the eighteenth constitutional amendment, reversed many of these distortions and added new provisions that, if implemented, may indeed strengthen constitutionalism and political stability. More legal reforms are needed. Discriminatory religious laws remain in force, and the justice system is still predisposed towards miscarriage.
In May 2009, the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPC), headed by the Supreme Court chief justice, produced the National Judicial Policy (NJP) 2009 to make the justice system more responsive to citizen needs. The policy applies enormous pressures on civil and criminal courts to resolve cases within a fixed timeframe. However, with a lopsided emphasis on speedier delivery, the NJP has failed to address critical weaknesses in the judiciary, including the criminal justice system. An already low conviction rate could decline even further. While slow delivery remains a critical problem, policymakers should avoid resorting to quick fixes and procedural short-cuts such as parallel court systems and informal dispute resolution mechanisms. Such measures, including anti-terrorism courts, have failed to produce the desired results, and have also undermined the quality of justice. An enhanced and reformed criminal justice sector remains the best and only sustainable option.
International allies, particularly the U.S. and the EU, should allocate the necessary resources to make Pakistan a strong criminal justice partner. A lopsided partnership with Pakistan’s military has yielded few sustainable counter-terrorism successes. Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadi groups continue to operate in the Pakistani heartland, undermining the country’s security and the security of its neighbours and the international community more broadly. The international community must shift the focus of security assistance to the civilian law enforcement agencies, which would yield long-term counter-terrorism dividends.
RECOMMENDATIONS
To the Federal Government of Pakistan and 
Provincial Governments:


1.  Repeal all laws that discriminate on the basis of religion, sect or gender, including the blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadi laws and Hudood Ordinances.
2.  Amend the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act to refine its definition of terrorism to include only those acts that are large in scale and intend to create a sense of fear and insecurity among segments of the public; and disband anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) and try terrorism cases in regular courts.
3.  Amend the Criminal Procedure Code to establish a robust witness protection program, and make the protection of witnesses, investigators, prosecutors and judges in major criminal cases, particularly terrorism cases, a priority.
4.  Address over-crowding in prisons by:
a) enforcing existing bail laws;
b) holding to account any trial judge failing to set bail where required by law;
c) passing a new law requiring judges to allow bail unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the prisoner would abscond or commit further offences; and
d) reforming the sentencing structure for non-violent petty crimes to include alternatives to imprisonment such as fines, probation and treatment.
5.  Guarantee the rights of all prisoners under remand by:
a) ensuring that prison facilities are fully resourced, including with enough vehicles to transport prisoners to court on the designated dates;
b) ensuring that they are taken to court on the dates of their hearings;
c) taking action against jail authorities who assign labour to remand prisoners, prohibited by law; and
d) providing free legal aid to remand prisoners who cannot afford counsel.
6.  Initiate a broad dialogue with stakeholders, including serving and retired senior police officials, jurists, criminologists, NGOs and other civil society groups to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the original Police Order (2002), and produce fresh bills in each legislature to strengthen law enforcement that have public support and political sanction.
7.  Develop mechanisms for individual police stations to articulate resource needs and for these to be reflected in provincial police budgeting processes.
8.  Carry out a comprehensive assessment of the gaps in investigation and prosecution, based on analyses of crime patterns, with the goal of identifying personnel, training and resource needs at the national, provincial and district levels; invest in producing cadres of specialists within investigation branches and agencies, in such fields as kidnapping, homicide, counter-terrorism and cyber-crime.
9.  Engage the public as an effective partner in policing by establishing and empowering neighbourhood committees, citizen-police liaison committees and public safety commissions at the national, provincial and district level to oversee critical aspects of policing and by ensuring that police have adequate resources and operational independence.
10.  Strengthen the police’s investigative capacity by:
a) computerising and maintaining centralised, serviceable records of all FIRs;
b) amending the Telegraph Act to establish clear protocols for investigators’ access to mobile phone data, and ensuring that this access is not undermined by the military’s intelligence agencies;
c) amending the Evidence Act to require investigators to incorporate scientific methods and data in investigations;
d) modernising the police force by enhancing scientific evidence collection, including DNA analysis, automated fingerprinting identification systems, and forensics, with particular emphasis on the provincial and district levels; prioritising completion of forensics science laboratories in Islamabad, in the case of the federal government, and Lahore, in the case of the provincial Punjab government; and allocating resources for similar laboratories in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces;
e) bringing the national forensics science laboratory under the Federal Investigation Agency, and the provincial laboratories under the respective criminal investigation departments, while guaranteeing operational independence and oversight;
f) appointing highly qualified scientists to head the forensics science laboratories, and making recruitment open to the private sector, with competitive salaries; and
g) requiring all potential candidates to the investigation branches to first serve as understudies to senior investigators; recruiting those who show potential; requiring them to undergo specialised training in specific fields such as homicide, counter-terrorism, cyber-crime and counter-narcotics; and providing regular refresher training, including through foreign exposure.
11.  Prevent external interference in investigations by:
a) requiring the approval of the relevant public safety commission before an investigating officer in an ongoing investigation can be replaced; and
b) publicising instances of military interference in investigations, including pressure on the police to surrender prisoners to the military’s intelligence agencies, and raise such cases with the higher judiciary.
12.  Strengthen the criminal prosecution services and police-prosecutor coordination by:
a) raising police and prosecutors’ salaries;
b) providing security of tenure to prosecutors, empowering them to reject weak cases, as well as specialised training in such fields as homicide and counter-terrorism, and integrating it with related police training programs;
c) mandating joint police-prosecutor committees to oversee investigations; and
d) establishing a committee within each prosecution service, headed by the prosecutor general and comprising respected jurists, to examine the number of cases an individual prosecutor prosecutes, reasons for trial delays, and the number of convictions and acquittals, including identifying causes for acquittals.
13.  Disband all state-supported lashkars (militias) and take action against any individuals or groups pursuing vigilante justice, including against alleged militants.
14.  Commit to impartial justice and end all deviations from the rule of law and constitutionalism by:
a) repealing parallel courts systems such as qazi (Sharia), National Accountability Bureau and anti-terrorism courts;
b) repealing all laws that discriminate on the basis on religion, sect and gender, including the blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws and the Hudood Ordinances; and
c) prosecuting any civilian or military officials responsible for enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.
To Pakistan’s Higher Judiciary:
15.  Shift the focus of the National Judicial Policy from short-term solutions for speedier delivery towards establishing a justice system that tackles the primary threats to internal stability and instills public confidence in the state.
16.  Circumscribe the doctrine of the constitution’s basic features by limiting it to amendments that negate the spirit of parliamentary democracy, judicial independence and federalism, and remove reference to Islamic provisions, given their vagueness.
17.  Respect the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution by:
a) limiting the Supreme Court’s use of suo motu powers to extreme cases of fundamental rights violations;
b) strictly interpreting Article 184 of the constitution to provide a clear definition of “public interest” that would prevent its broad use or abuse; and
c) prohibiting the provincial high courts from taking suo motu action, in accordance with the constitution.
18.  Strike down all laws that discriminate on the basis of religion, sect and gender, as unconstitutional, if the government fails to repeal them.
To the International Community, particularly 
the United States and the European Union:


19.  Make Pakistan a strong criminal justice partner by shifting the focus of security assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies and criminal prosecution.
20.  Support the modernisation and enhance the counter-terrorism capacity of the police and civilian security agencies, including by training investigators in modern methods of evidence collection, equipping forensic laboratories and assisting the computerisation of police records.
21.  Send unambiguous signals to the military that illegal detentions, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the name of counter-terrorism are unacceptable, by conditioning military aid on credible efforts by the military leadership to hold any military and intelligence officers and officials found committing such acts to account.
Islamabad/Brussels, 6 December 2010
x x x."

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

See - Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities





Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Preamble

The States Parties to the present Convention,
  1. Recalling the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations which recognize the inherent dignity and worth and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
  2. Recognizing that the United Nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenants on Human Rights, has proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind,
  3. Reaffirming the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the need for persons with disabilities to be guaranteed their full enjoyment without discrimination,
  4. Recalling the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,
  5. Recognizing that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others,
  6. Recognizing the importance of the principles and policy guidelines contained in the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and in the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in influencing the promotion, formulation and evaluation of the policies, plans, programmes and actions at the national, regional and international levels to further equalize opportunities for persons with disabilities,
  7. Emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development,
  8. Recognizing also that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person,
  9. Recognizing further the diversity of persons with disabilities,
  10. Recognizing the need to promote and protect the human rights of all persons with disabilities, including those who require more intensive support,
  11. Concerned that, despite these various instruments and undertakings, persons with disabilities continue to face barriers in their participation as equal members of society and violations of their human rights in all parts of the world,
  12. Recognizing the importance of international cooperation for improving the living conditions of persons with disabilities in every country, particularly in developing countries,
  13. Recognizing the valued existing and potential contributions made by persons with disabilities to the overall well-being and diversity of their communities, and that the promotion of the full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of their human rights and fundamental freedoms and of full participation by persons with disabilities will result in their enhanced sense of belonging and in significant advances in the human, social and economic development of society and the eradication of poverty,
  14. Recognizing the importance for persons with disabilities of their individual autonomy and independence, including the freedom to make their own choices,
  15. Considering that persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to be actively involved in decision-making processes about policies and programmes, including those directly concerning them,
  16. Concerned about the difficult conditions faced by persons with disabilities who are subject to multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic, indigenous or social origin, property, birth, age or other status,
  17. Recognizing that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation,
  18. Recognizing that children with disabilities should have full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children, and recalling obligations to that end undertaken by States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
  19. Emphasizing the need to incorporate a gender perspective in all efforts to promote the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities,
  20. Highlighting the fact that the majority of persons with disabilities live in conditions of poverty, and in this regard recognizing the critical need to address the negative impact of poverty on persons with disabilities,
  21. Bearing in mind that conditions of peace and security based on full respect for the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations and observance of applicable human rights instruments are indispensable for the full protection of persons with disabilities, in particular during armed conflicts and foreign occupation,
  22. Recognizing the importance of accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication, in enabling persons with disabilities to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms,
  23. Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he or she belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the International Bill of Human Rights,
  24. Convinced that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State, and that persons with disabilities and their family members should receive the necessary protection and assistance to enable families to contribute towards the full and equal enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities,
  25. Convinced that a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities will make a significant contribution to redressing the profound social disadvantage of persons with disabilities and promote their participation in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres with equal opportunities, in both developing and developed countries,
Have agreed as follows:

Article 1 - Purpose

The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Article 2 - Definitions

For the purposes of the present Convention:
  • "Communication" includes languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology;
  • "Language" includes spoken and signed languages and other forms of non spoken languages;
  • "Discrimination on the basis of disability" means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation;
  • "Reasonable accommodation" means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • "Universal design" means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. “Universal design” shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.

Article 3 - General principles

The principles of the present Convention shall be:
  1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
  2. Non-discrimination;
  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  5. Equality of opportunity;
  6. Accessibility;
  7. Equality between men and women;
  8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

Article 4 - General obligations

1. States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability. To this end, States Parties undertake:
  1. To adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention;
  2. To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities;
  3. To take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes;
  4. To refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the present Convention and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with the present Convention;
  5. To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability by any person, organization or private enterprise;
  6. To undertake or promote research and development of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, which should require the minimum possible adaptation and the least cost to meet the specific needs of a person with disabilities, to promote their availability and use, and to promote universal design in the development of standards and guidelines;
  7. To undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the availability and use of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities, giving priority to technologies at an affordable cost;
  8. To provide accessible information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support services and facilities;
  9. To promote the training of professionals and staff working with persons with disabilities in the rights recognized in this Convention so as to better provide the assistance and services guaranteed by those rights.
2. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, each State Party undertakes to take measures to the maximum of its available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of these rights, without prejudice to those obligations contained in the present Convention that are immediately applicable according to international law.

3. In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.

4. Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions which are more conducive to the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and which may be contained in the law of a State Party or international law in force for that State. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Convention pursuant to law, conventions, regulation or custom on the pretext that the present Convention does not recognize such rights or freedoms or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.

5. The provisions of the present Convention shall extend to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions.

Article 5 - Equality and non-discrimination

1. States Parties recognize that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

2. States Parties shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.

3. In order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, States Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided.

4. Specific measures which are necessary to accelerate or achieve de facto equality of persons with disabilities shall not be considered discrimination under the terms of the present Convention.

Article 6 - Women with disabilities

1. States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the present Convention.

Article 7 - Children with disabilities

1. States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children.

2. In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

3. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right.

Article 8 - Awareness-raising

1. States Parties undertake to adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures:
  1. To raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities;
  2. To combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life;
  3. To promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities.
Measures to this end include:
  1. Initiating and maintaining effective public awareness campaigns designed:
    1. To nurture receptiveness to the rights of persons with disabilities;
    2. To promote positive perceptions and greater social awareness towards persons with disabilities;
    3. To promote recognition of the skills, merits and abilities of persons with disabilities, and of their contributions to the workplace and the labour market;
  2. Fostering at all levels of the education system, including in all children from an early age, an attitude of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities;
  3. Encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the present Convention;
  4. Promoting awareness-training programmes regarding persons with disabilities and the rights of persons with disabilities.

Article 9 - Accessibility

1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
  1. Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
  2. Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to:
  1. Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
  2. Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
  3. Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
  4. Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
  5. Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
  6. Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
  7. Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
  8. Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.

Article 10 - Right to life

States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

Article 11 - Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies

States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

Article 12 - Equal recognition before the law

1. States Parties reaffirm that persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law.

2. States Parties shall recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.

3. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.

4. States Parties shall ensure that all measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. Such safeguards shall ensure that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity respect the rights, will and preferences of the person, are free of conflict of interest and undue influence, are proportional and tailored to the person’s circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body. The safeguards shall be proportional to the degree to which such measures affect the person’s rights and interests.

5. Subject to the provisions of this article, States Parties shall take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit, and shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.

Article 13 - Access to justice

1. States Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stages.

2. In order to help to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities, States Parties shall promote appropriate training for those working in the field of administration of justice, including police and prison staff.

Article 14 - Liberty and security of the person

1. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:
  1. Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;
  2. Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.
2. States Parties shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation.

Article 15 - Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

1. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his or her free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

2. States Parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 16 - Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects.

2. States Parties shall also take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse by ensuring, inter alia, appropriate forms of gender- and age-sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers, including through the provision of information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances of exploitation, violence and abuse. States Parties shall ensure that protection services are age-, gender- and disability-sensitive.

3. In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.

4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse, including through the provision of protection services. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment that fosters the health, welfare, self-respect, dignity and autonomy of the person and takes into account gender- and age-specific needs.

5. States Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women- and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.

Article 17 - Protecting the integrity of the person

Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.

Article 18 - Liberty of movement and nationality

1. States Parties shall recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to liberty of movement, to freedom to choose their residence and to a nationality, on an equal basis with others, including by ensuring that persons with disabilities:
  1. Have the right to acquire and change a nationality and are not deprived of their nationality arbitrarily or on the basis of disability;
  2. Are not deprived, on the basis of disability, of their ability to obtain, possess and utilize documentation of their nationality or other documentation of identification, or to utilize relevant processes such as immigration proceedings, that may be needed to facilitate exercise of the right to liberty of movement;
  3. Are free to leave any country, including their own;
  4. Are not deprived, arbitrarily or on the basis of disability, of the right to enter their own country.
2. Children with disabilities shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by their parents.

Article 19 - Living independently and being included in the community

States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:
  1. Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;
  2. Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;
  3. Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.

Article 20 - Personal mobility

States Parties shall take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by:
  1. Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost;
  2. Facilitating access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost;
  3. Providing training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist staff working with persons with disabilities;
  4. Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities.

Article 21 - Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:
  1. Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;
  2. Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;
  3. Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;
  4. Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities;
  5. Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.

Article 22 - Respect for privacy

1. No person with disabilities, regardless of place of residence or living arrangements, shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence or other types of communication or to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. Persons with disabilities have the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

2. States Parties shall protect the privacy of personal, health and rehabilitation information of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

Article 23 - Respect for home and the family

1. States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships, on an equal basis with others, so as to ensure that:
  1. The right of all persons with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and to found a family on the basis of free and full consent of the intending spouses is recognized;
  2. The rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided;
  3. Persons with disabilities, including children, retain their fertility on an equal basis with others.
2. States Parties shall ensure the rights and responsibilities of persons with disabilities, with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship, adoption of children or similar institutions, where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the best interests of the child shall be paramount. States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to persons with disabilities in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities.

3. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have equal rights with respect to family life. With a view to realizing these rights, and to prevent concealment, abandonment, neglect and segregation of children with disabilities, States Parties shall undertake to provide early and comprehensive information, services and support to children with disabilities and their families.

4. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. In no case shall a child be separated from parents on the basis of a disability of either the child or one or both of the parents.

5. States Parties shall, where the immediate family is unable to care for a child with disabilities, undertake every effort to provide alternative care within the wider family, and failing that, within the community in a family setting.

Article 24 - Education

1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life long learning directed to:
  1. The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
  2. The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
  3. Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.
2. In realizing this right, States Parties shall ensure that:
  1. Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability;
  2. Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;
  3. Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements is provided;
  4. Persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;
  5. Effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion.
3. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
  1. Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
  2. Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
  3. Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
4. In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.

5. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities.

Article 25 - Health

States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
  1. Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
  2. Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
  3. Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities, including in rural areas;
  4. Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
  5. Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
  6. Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.

Article 26 - Habilitation and rehabilitation

1. States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures, including through peer support, to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life. To that end, States Parties shall organize, strengthen and extend comprehensive habilitation and rehabilitation services and programmes, particularly in the areas of health, employment, education and social services, in such a way that these services and programmes:
  1. Begin at the earliest possible stage, and are based on the multidisciplinary assessment of individual needs and strengths;
  2. Support participation and inclusion in the community and all aspects of society, are voluntary, and are available to persons with disabilities as close as possible to their own communities, including in rural areas.
2. States Parties shall promote the development of initial and continuing training for professionals and staff working in habilitation and rehabilitation services.

3. States Parties shall promote the availability, knowledge and use of assistive devices and technologies, designed for persons with disabilities, as they relate to habilitation and rehabilitation.

Article 27 - Work and employment

1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. States Parties shall safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work, including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment, by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation, to, inter alia:
  1. Prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions;
  2. Protect the rights of persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to just and favourable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redress of grievances;
  3. Ensure that persons with disabilities are able to exercise their labour and trade union rights on an equal basis with others;
  4. Enable persons with disabilities to have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programmes, placement services and vocational and continuing training;
  5. Promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment;
  6. Promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperatives and starting one’s own business;
  7. Employ persons with disabilities in the public sector;
  8. Promote the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector through appropriate policies and measures, which may include affirmative action programmes, incentives and other measures;
  9. Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace;
  10. Promote the acquisition by persons with disabilities of work experience in the open labour market;
  11. Promote vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention and return-to-work programmes for persons with disabilities.
2. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not held in slavery or in servitude, and are protected, on an equal basis with others, from forced or compulsory labour.

Article 28 - Adequate standard of living and social protection

1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.

2. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right, including measures:
  1. To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for disability-related needs;
  2. To ensure access by persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities and older persons with disabilities, to social protection programmes and poverty reduction programmes;
  3. To ensure access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care;
  4. To ensure access by persons with disabilities to public housing programmes;
  5. To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to retirement benefits and programmes.

Article 29 - Participation in political and public life

States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake to:
  1. Ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:
    1. Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;
    2. Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;
    3. Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;
  2. Promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:
    1. Participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;
    2. Forming and joining organizations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.

Article 30 - Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities:
  1. Enjoy access to cultural materials in accessible formats;
  2. Enjoy access to television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats;
  3. Enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.
2. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.

3. States Parties shall take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials.

4. Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.

5. With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:
  1. To encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels;
  2. To ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and, to this end, encourage the provision, on an equal basis with others, of appropriate instruction, training and resources;
  3. To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to sporting, recreational and tourism venues;
  4. To ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system;
  5. To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to services from those involved in the organization of recreational, tourism, leisure and sporting activities.

Article 31 - Statistics and data collection

1. States Parties undertake to collect appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the present Convention. The process of collecting and maintaining this information shall:
  1. Comply with legally established safeguards, including legislation on data protection, to ensure confidentiality and respect for the privacy of persons with disabilities;
  2. Comply with internationally accepted norms to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and ethical principles in the collection and use of statistics.
2. The information collected in accordance with this article shall be disaggregated, as appropriate, and used to help assess the implementation of States Parties’ obligations under the present Convention and to identify and address the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in exercising their rights.

3. States Parties shall assume responsibility for the dissemination of these statistics and ensure their accessibility to persons with disabilities and others.

Article 32 - International cooperation

1. States Parties recognize the importance of international cooperation and its promotion, in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the present Convention, and will undertake appropriate and effective measures in this regard, between and among States and, as appropriate, in partnership with relevant international and regional organizations and civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities. Such measures could include, inter alia:
  1. Ensuring that international cooperation, including international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities;
  2. Facilitating and supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programmes and best practices;
  3. Facilitating cooperation in research and access to scientific and technical knowledge;
  4. Providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.
2. The provisions of this article are without prejudice to the obligations of each State Party to fulfil its obligations under the present Convention.

Article 33 - National implementation and monitoring

1. States Parties, in accordance with their system of organization, shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to the implementation of the present Convention, and shall give due consideration to the establishment or designation of a coordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels.

2. States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention. When designating or establishing such a mechanism, States Parties shall take into account the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.

3. Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.

Article 34 - Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

1. There shall be established a Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereafter referred to as “the Committee”), which shall carry out the functions hereinafter provided.

2. The Committee shall consist, at the time of entry into force of the present Convention, of twelve experts. After an additional sixty ratifications or accessions to the Convention, the membership of the Committee shall increase by six members, attaining a maximum number of eighteen members.

3. The members of the Committee shall serve in their personal capacity and shall be of high moral standing and recognized competence and experience in the field covered by the present Convention. When nominating their candidates, States Parties are invited to give due consideration to the provision set out in article 4.3 of the present Convention.

4. The members of the Committee shall be elected by States Parties, consideration being given to equitable geographical distribution, representation of the different forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities.

5. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by the States Parties from among their nationals at meetings of the Conference of States Parties. At those meetings, for which two thirds of States Parties shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those who obtain the largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the representatives of States Parties present and voting.

6. The initial election shall be held no later than six months after the date of entry into force of the present Convention. At least four months before the date of each election, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a letter to the States Parties inviting them to submit the nominations within two months. The Secretary-General shall subsequently prepare a list in alphabetical order of all persons thus nominated, indicating the State Parties which have nominated them, and shall submit it to the States Parties to the present Convention.

7. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years. They shall be eligible for re-election once. However, the term of six of the members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two years; immediately after the first election, the names of these six members shall be chosen by lot by the chairperson of the meeting referred to in paragraph 5 of this article.

8. The election of the six additional members of the Committee shall be held on the occasion of regular elections, in accordance with the relevant provisions of this article.

9. If a member of the Committee dies or resigns or declares that for any other cause she or he can no longer perform her or his duties, the State Party which nominated the member shall appoint another expert possessing the qualifications and meeting the requirements set out in the relevant provisions of this article, to serve for the remainder of the term.

10. The Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure.

11. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary staff and facilities for the effective performance of the functions of the Committee under the present Convention, and shall convene its initial meeting.

12. With the approval of the General Assembly, the members of the Committee established under the present Convention shall receive emoluments from United Nations resources on such terms and conditions as the Assembly may decide, having regard to the importance of the Committee’s responsibilities.

13. The members of the Committee shall be entitled to the facilities, privileges and immunities of experts on mission for the United Nations as laid down in the relevant sections of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.

Article 35 - Reports by States Parties

1. Each State Party shall submit to the Committee, through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, a comprehensive report on measures taken to give effect to its obligations under the present Convention and on the progress made in that regard, within two years after the entry into force of the present Convention for the State Party concerned.

2. Thereafter, States Parties shall submit subsequent reports at least every four years and further whenever the Committee so requests.

3. The Committee shall decide any guidelines applicable to the content of the reports.

4. A State Party which has submitted a comprehensive initial report to the Committee need not, in its subsequent reports, repeat information previously provided. When preparing reports to the Committee, States Parties are invited to consider doing so in an open and transparent process and to give due consideration to the provision set out in article 4.3 of the present Convention.

5. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations under the present Convention.

Article 36 - Consideration of reports

1. Each report shall be considered by the Committee, which shall make such suggestions and general recommendations on the report as it may consider appropriate and shall forward these to the State Party concerned. The State Party may respond with any information it chooses to the Committee. The Committee may request further information from States Parties relevant to the implementation of the present Convention.

2. If a State Party is significantly overdue in the submission of a report, the Committee may notify the State Party concerned of the need to examine the implementation of the present Convention in that State Party, on the basis of reliable information available to the Committee, if the relevant report is not submitted within three months following the notification. The Committee shall invite the State Party concerned to participate in such examination. Should the State Party respond by submitting the relevant report, the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article will apply.

3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall make available the reports to all States Parties.

4. States Parties shall make their reports widely available to the public in their own countries and facilitate access to the suggestions and general recommendations relating to these reports.

5. The Committee shall transmit, as it may consider appropriate, to the specialized agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations, and other competent bodies, reports from States Parties in order to address a request or indication of a need for technical advice or assistance contained therein, along with the Committee’s observations and recommendations, if any, on these requests or indications.

Article 37 - Cooperation between States Parties and the Committee

1. Each State Party shall cooperate with the Committee and assist its members in the fulfilment of their mandate.

2. In its relationship with States Parties, the Committee shall give due consideration to ways and means of enhancing national capacities for the implementation of the present Convention, including through international cooperation.

Article 38 - Relationship of the Committee with other bodies

In order to foster the effective implementation of the present Convention and to encourage international cooperation in the field covered by the present Convention:
  1. The specialized agencies and other United Nations organs shall be entitled to be represented at the consideration of the implementation of such provisions of the present Convention as fall within the scope of their mandate. The Committee may invite the specialized agencies and other competent bodies as it may consider appropriate to provide expert advice on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of their respective mandates. The Committee may invite specialized agencies and other United Nations organs to submit reports on the implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the scope of their activities;
  2. The Committee, as it discharges its mandate, shall consult, as appropriate, other relevant bodies instituted by international human rights treaties, with a view to ensuring the consistency of their respective reporting guidelines, suggestions and general recommendations, and avoiding duplication and overlap in the performance of their functions.

Article 39 - Report of the Committee

The Committee shall report every two years to the General Assembly and to the Economic and Social Council on its activities, and may make suggestions and general recommendations based on the examination of reports and information received from the States Parties. Such suggestions and general recommendations shall be included in the report of the Committee together with comments, if any, from States Parties.

Article 40 - Conference of States Parties

1. The States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.

2. No later than six months after the entry into force of the present Convention, the Conference of the States Parties shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The subsequent meetings shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations biennially or upon the decision of the Conference of States Parties.

Article 41 - Depositary

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be the depositary of the present Convention.

Article 42 - Signature

The present Convention shall be open for signature by all States and by regional integration organizations at United Nations Headquarters in New York as of 30 March 2007.

Article 43 - Consent to be bound

The present Convention shall be subject to ratification by signatory States and to formal confirmation by signatory regional integration organizations. It shall be open for accession by any State or regional integration organization which has not signed the Convention.

Article 44 - Regional integration organizations

1. “Regional integration organization” shall mean an organization constituted by sovereign States of a given region, to which its member States have transferred competence in respect of matters governed by this Convention. Such organizations shall declare, in their instruments of formal confirmation or accession, the extent of their competence with respect to matters governed by this Convention. Subsequently, they shall inform the depositary of any substantial modification in the extent of their competence.

2. References to “States Parties” in the present Convention shall apply to such organizations within the limits of their competence.

3. For the purposes of article 45, paragraph 1, and article 47, paragraphs 2 and 3, any instrument deposited by a regional integration organization shall not be counted.

4. Regional integration organizations, in matters within their competence, may exercise their right to vote in the Conference of States Parties, with a number of votes equal to the number of their member States that are Parties to this Convention. Such an organization shall not exercise its right to vote if any of its member States exercises its right, and vice versa.

Article 45 - Entry into force

1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession.

2. For each State or regional integration organization ratifying, formally confirming or acceding to the Convention after the deposit of the twentieth such instrument, the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the deposit of its own such instrument.

Article 46 - Reservations

1. Reservations incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be permitted.

2. Reservations may be withdrawn at any time.

Article 47 - Amendments

1. Any State Party may propose an amendment to the present Convention and submit it to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall communicate any proposed amendments to States Parties, with a request to be notified whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the purpose of considering and deciding upon the proposals. In the event that, within four months from the date of such communication, at least one third of the States Parties favour such a conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of two thirds of the States Parties present and voting shall be submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly for approval and thereafter to all States Parties for acceptance.

2. An amendment adopted and approved in accordance with paragraph 1 of this article shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the number of instruments of acceptance deposited reaches two thirds of the number of States Parties at the date of adoption of the amendment. Thereafter, the amendment shall enter into force for any State Party on the thirtieth day following the deposit of its own instrument of acceptance. An amendment shall be binding only on those States Parties which have accepted it.

3. If so decided by the Conference of States Parties by consensus, an amendment adopted and approved in accordance with paragraph 1 of this article which relates exclusively to articles 34, 38, 39 and 40 shall enter into force for all States Parties on the thirtieth day after the number of instruments of acceptance deposited reaches two thirds of the number of States Parties at the date of adoption of the amendment.

Article 48 - Denunciation

A State Party may denounce the present Convention by written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The denunciation shall become effective one year after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.

Article 49 - Accessible format

The text of the present Convention shall be made available in accessible formats.

Article 50 - Authentic texts

The Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts of the present Convention shall be equally authentic.

In witness thereof the undersigned plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized thereto by their respective Governments, have signed the present Convention.