Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Commend the Republic of Korea on Measures Taken to Implement the Convention, Ask Questions on the Right to Privacy and Guardianship – OHCHR

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25 August 2022
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The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the combined second and third periodic report of the Republic of Korea on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Committee Experts commended the Republic of Korea on measures taken to implement the Convention, while asking questions on persons with disabilities’ right to privacy and supportive decision-making processes regarding guardianship.
Gerel Dondovdorj, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, commended the efforts of the Republic of Korea and acknowledged the measures taken to implement the Convention, particularly the initiation of the procedure of the ratification of the Optional Protocol.  She also welcomed the amendment of the act on welfare of persons with disabilities; the revision of the disability grading system, though it still needed to be harmonised with the Convention; and the adoption of the fifth comprehensive policy plan for persons with disabilities. 
Several Experts asked about measures to guarantee the autonomy and right to privacy of persons with disabilities.  Gertrude Fefoame, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that over 1,000 GPS systems had been distributed to persons with disabilities.  What plans did the State party have to put a stop to this practice?
A Committee Expert said that around 16,000 people were under guardianship.  What steps had been taken to replace substitute decision-making with supportive decision-making procedures?
Min Seob Yeom, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, said that the Republic of Korea endeavoured strenuously to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities and build a user-oriented support system.  This was reflected in the expansion of the budget for the disability sector by about 3.2 times over eight years. 
The Director General said that location trackers were used to ensure that children with disabilities did not go missing.
Mr. Yeom said that guardianship was not based on substitutive but supportive decision-making.  The delegation added that guardianship could be terminated by family courts when requested by the person under guardianship.  Courts managed and supervised the affairs of guardians, and required them to submit reports on their activities regularly.
  
In concluding remarks, Mr. Yeom said that over the last 13 years, the Republic of Korea had exerted various efforts to improve the rights of persons with disabilities.  Many achievements had been made, but there was still more to be done.  The Committee’s recommendations would help steer the Government in a better direction.  The Republic of Korea would continue to engage with the Committee and civil society to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Fefoame commended the State party for its determination in implementing the Convention.  However, she said that the State party needed to implement a deinstitutionalisation plan; put in place an inclusive education policy; strengthen the participation of persons with disabilities in policy development and monitoring; and strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission. 
  
The delegation of the Republic of Korea consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Health and Welfare; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Seoul Administrative Court; Incheon District Court; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Ministry of Employment and Labour; National Assembly; and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of the Republic of Korea at the end of its twenty-seventh session, which concludes on 9 September.  Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.  The programme of work of the Committee’s twenty-seventh session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public on Thursday, 25 August at 3 p.m. to review the initial report of Bangladesh (CRPD/C/BGD/1 ).
Report
The Committee has before it the combined second and third periodic report of the Republic of Korea (CRPD/C/KOR/2-3).
Presentation of Report
TAEHO LEE, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Republic of Korea had made significant improvements to its support systems for persons with disabilities.  It took a rights-based approach to supporting persons with disabilities.  The Committee’s assessment and recommendations would help to push forward future measures to help realise the goals of the Convention.
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, said that the Republic of Korea endeavoured strenuously to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities and build a user-oriented support system.  This was reflected in the expansion of the budget for the disability sector by about 3.2 times over eight years.  With a view to strengthening the rights of persons with disabilities to make their own choices, the Government was planning to introduce individual budgets.  In addition, it was stepping up assistance for care, income and jobs, while supporting the independent living of persons with disabilities in the community.
The Republic of Korea was working actively for the ratification of the Optional Protocol.  A resolution by the State Council was adopted in December 2021, with its deliberation now pending before the National Assembly. 
The Government had revamped the disability grading system in 2019 to identify the individual needs of persons with disabilities and provide an adequate level of customised services.  Legislation in 2018 provided services tailored to specific life stage characteristics of persons with disabilities.  In 2019, day-time activity support services and afterschool activity services were rolled out.  Legislation was also amended in 2022 to provide integrated services to persons with severe developmental disabilities.  To expand opportunities for women with disabilities to participate in society, vocational training and education were being reinforced. 
Low-floor buses and special means of transportation equipped with wheelchair lifts had been introduced.  The installation of convenience facilities for persons with disabilities at restaurants and convenience stores was made mandatory.
Guidance on legal assistance available by disability type was provided in 2013.  Subsidisation of sign language interpretation services in court and supply of court documents in Braille were among the supports available that guaranteed the right to a fair trial for persons with disabilities.
The Government was working to improve the hospital admission process and provide community-based services for persons with mental disorders.  Through these endeavours, the ratio of involuntary admission had been pushed down from 61 per cent in 2016 to 34 per cent in 2021.  Mental health welfare centres had been established at 260 locations across the nation. 
The roadmap to support independent living of deinstitutionalised persons with disabilities was established in 2021. 
Based on this roadmap, the Republic of Korea planned to pursue policies for independent living.  It would strive to put in place an effective support system for housing, employment, care and social participation.
Five-year plans had been developed to bolster the accessibility of information for persons with hearing and visual impairments.  Public sector announcements of important government policies were supported by sign language interpretation services and Braille documents.  Sign language interpreters were made mandatory for official policy announcements in 2022.  In disaster situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, sign language interpreters were dispatched to sites where major announcements were made. 
Students with disabilities were given specialised education free of charge for up to three years upon high school graduation.  Special education support centres provided a range of accommodations for students with disabilities.  Investigations of human rights conditions in educational institutions were conducted every year. 
A healthcare management system for persons with disabilities had been developed to give persons with disabilities access to community-based integrated health care services.  Regional rehabilitation hospitals dedicated to serving persons with disabilities were being established in each region, as well as public children’s rehabilitation hospitals.
The Government was enforcing a mandatory employment system of persons with disabilities and paying incentives for such employment.  The statutory employment share of persons with disabilities had been raised to 3.6 per cent for the public sector and 3.1 per cent for the private sector.  Vocational rehabilitation facilities supported easier access to workplaces in the community for persons with disabilities.  Today, about 250,000 persons with disabilities had jobs.
The disability pension system provided support for living security to persons with severe disabilities, whose incomes were in the bottom 70 per cent bracket.  Since the introduction of the system in 2010, the Republic of Korea had gradually expanded the scope of eligibility and the level of benefits.
Despite these accomplishments, there was still room for further improvement to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities and their lives to be on an equal basis with others.  The Government remained committed to dialogue and cooperation with diverse stakeholders in society to drive further progress in disability policies.
Statement by National Human Rights Commission
KYUSUN NAM, National Human Rights Commissioner, said that there had been a drop in the number of persons with severe disabilities receiving support services.  Persons with disabilities were also excluded from accessing the minimum wage.  The very first person who died of COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea was a patient with psychosocial disabilities who had been isolated in mental hospitals for 20 years.  The percentage of involuntary hospitalisation was still high, and services for self-reliant housing and health care were insufficient.  Now was the time to establish a national strategy for the implementation of the Convention.  The Commission planned to form a mid-to-long term monitoring plan for the implementation of the Convention.  The law for deinstitutionalisation should be enacted as soon as possible, and people with psychosocial disabilities should not be locked up in hospitals for long periods of time.
Questions by Committee Experts
GEREL DONDOVDORJ, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, commended the efforts of the Republic of Korea and acknowledged the measures taken to implement the Convention, particularly the initiation of the procedure of the ratification of the Optional Protocol.  There was a need to accelerate the process and finalise the adoption.  Ms. Dondovdorj also welcomed the amendment of the act on welfare of persons with disabilities; the revision of the disability grading system, though it still needed to be harmonised with the Convention; and the adoption of the fifth comprehensive policy plan for persons with disabilities.  However, there were also critical issues, including disability-related legislation and policies that were not in line with Convention; a lack of data and initiatives to prevent the abuse of children with disabilities; a lack of progress made to abolish the guardianship system and substituted decision-making regime; continuous institutionalisation of persons with disabilities; and segregated education. 
The definition of disability in the State was based on the medical model.  What measures had been taken by the State to revise the definition?  Due to a lack of understanding, some persons with multiple disabilities were not recognised as such, such as deaf-blind persons.  What measures had been taken to abolish the disability classification system and provide individualised support?
A Committee Expert asked about measures to guarantee the autonomy and right to privacy of persons with disabilities.  Persons with disabilities were allegedly given a GPS device without their consent.
It was concerning that public transport was not accessible for persons with disabilities, especially for blind people and people of small stature.  What was the State’s plan to increase accessible buses?
What financial support plans were in place for people with mental disabilities and for people of low stature?  Was information being spread about the right to mobility?  What progress had been made on the ratification of the Optional Protocol?
A Committee Expert asked about measures taken to enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination act for persons with disabilities.
Another Committee Expert asked for information on measures taken to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in policy making.  Persons with disabilities were allegedly not consulted on policies that affected them.  What activities had been undertaken to combat negative stereotypes regarding persons with disabilities?  Were persons with disabilities involved in awareness raising programmes and training for public officials, medical staff and the media?
One Committee Expert said the National Human Rights Commission received complaints on discrimination and was supposed to forward those to the Ministry of Justice.  However, only a small percentage were forwarded.  Why was this?  What redress was provided for victims of discrimination?
Women with disabilities had significantly lower levels of employment and income.  What measures were being taken to rectify this?  Were women with disabilities present in mainstream women’s organizations?  What measures were in place to support women with disabilities in childbearing, and to combat discrimination against women with disabilities?
What plans did the Government have to support the independence of children with disabilities at home?  What policies were in place to support the full inclusion of children with disabilities in society?
What measures were in place to re-enforce the positive image of persons with disabilities in the media and prevent discrimination?
A Committee Expert asked about efforts to include women with disabilities in Government positions.
Another Committee Expert said that there was a much higher rate of abuse of children with disabilities, and a high rate of suicide of persons with disabilities.  What measures had been taken to prevent suicide of persons with disabilities, especially children?
One Committee Expert asked about efforts to ensure that women and girls with disabilities were included in the third gender master plan.  Were there budgets to support programmes for women
with disabilities?
GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked if plans were in place to ensure that persons with visual and hearing conditions could use buses on an equal basis with others.  What measures were in place to ensure accessibility of all buildings for persons with disabilities?  What measures were being adopted to protect persons with disabilities living in institutions from facing discriminatory practices?    
Responses by the Delegation
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, said that in 2019, the formal disability grading system was abolished, and the new comprehensive survey for providing services was introduced to determine the level of benefits for social welfare services based on various characteristics.  The new survey had led to improvements in service provisions, but there were also some drops in services provided for persons with certain disabilities.  Disability had previously been defined using the medical model, but this was being changed.  The Government was reviewing legislation to introduce the social model of disability.  Tourette syndrome and chronic pain were added as disability types to the disability registration system.
The policy coordination committee oversaw policies for persons with disabilities and monitored and evaluated the execution of such policies.  Heads of disability organizations, experts on disability issues, and persons with disabilities were members of the committee.
Guide facilities, accessible toilets and wheelchair ramps were available on railroad networks.  Bus companies would be required to introduce low-floor buses from January 2023.  The Government had funded a project to install wheelchair support in buses.  Since 2013, special means of transportation equipped with wheelchair lifts had been introduced in cities.  Travel coverage of disability-friendly vehicles would be expanded to regional areas from next year.  Voucher taxis supported persons with disabilities in moving between cities, and were partially funded by local Governments.
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, said that location trackers were used to ensure that children with disabilities did not go missing.
A popular drama featuring a person with developmental disabilities had led to increased social awareness of such persons.  Care services were being expanded for persons with developmental disabilities.  A transition project was also in place to support the employment of these persons.  Helpers were dispatched to places of employment, and housing related supports were also provided.
Once ratification of the Optional Protocol in the National Assembly was completed, systems to enable the reporting procedure would be established.
The 1998 disability convenience act specified convenience facilities for persons with disabilities in community buildings.  Such facilities had been installed in 80 per cent of Government buildings.  It was mandatory for shopping carts to be provided for wheelchair users in shopping centres, and entrances had been expanded to allow for wheelchair entry.  The Government was now considering removing the minimum floor size criteria for mandatory installation of these facilities.
The delegation said that an anti-discrimination and equality bill had been submitted before the National Assembly, but there were conflicting opinions on the remedial procedures in this bill.  The Government would continue to review this legislation.
Publicity campaigns were in place to raise awareness of disability issues.  Staff of public institutions were required to undergo training on disability.  The Government was developing lesson plans for disability-awareness education.  Persons who had been subjected to hate speech could go through remedy procedures with the National Human Rights Commission.
The Government had amended the discrimination prohibition act so that persons with disabilities no longer had the burden of proof regarding acts of discrimination.  Some 213 complaint cases had been filed under the act, of which correction orders had been issued for six cases and around 150 cases were closed.  Closed cases were settled before the issuance of correction orders.
The Government funded disability organizations that supported the rights of women with disabilities.  Such organizations were invited to participate in Government policy meetings, and women with disabilities were encouraged to participate.  The views of persons with disabilities were included in policies.
To encourage the employment of women with disabilities, vocational training was provided.  The number of women completing such training had increased 2.3-fold over the last 10 years.  Business entities were provided with incentives to employ women with disabilities.  Childcare support and health service support was provided for women with disabilities.  Seventeen cities and 43 organizations conducted educational programmes for women with disabilities.  Around 1,005 women with disabilities received childcare subsidies in 2021.  Dedicated equipment for women with disabilities had been installed in disability-friendly obstetricians.  Mother-child health projects provided health and childbirth support services for women with disabilities in hospitals.  Support centres provided counselling, expense subsidies and legal support for victims of domestic violence.  Shelters, medical services and rehabilitation services were also provided for victims.
In 2020, there had been 133 cases of abuse of children with disabilities.  The Government was cooperating with child support agencies and had appointed experts to develop action plans on preventing such abuse.  Shelters for child victims of abuse had been established in three major cities, and such shelters would be established in other cities.
The Government provided education to members of the judiciary on the rights of persons with disabilities.  The Ministry of Justice would work to build competencies to support decision-making in cases involving persons with disabilities.
The Government was reviewing transportation systems to support access for persons with disabilities.  Rail blocks, braille guides and voice guides were required at bus stations.  Inside buses, voice guides and digital displays were installed.
The Government had established independent living centres, and strengthened housing residential support.  In 2021, there were around 24,000 persons living in residential facilities, and this number was declining every year.  The Government had formulated a roadmap supporting independent living.  A dedicated taskforce to implement this roadmap had been established.  A pilot project supporting independent living was underway in 10 regions.  Employment support and leisure activity support projects were also in place.  The expansion of community-based services was needed more than ever, but there were also persons that needed residential services.
Questions by Committee Experts
GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that trackers were used without consent, and privacy was compromised.  What steps would the State party put in place to allow individuals involved to be part of decision-making procedures?
The medical approach was used to determine disability.  What measures would be put in place to allow persons with disabilities to receive the services that they required?
Was there a mechanism for children with disabilities to file complaints?  Were people who worked with children with disabilities properly trained?  Did the national disability action plan reference children with disabilities?  What measures were in place to allow child victims of abuse to access support services?  What measures were in place to ensure that judges provided individualised support to persons with disabilities?  What measures had been taken to support access to personal mobility aids?
A Committee Expert asked about measures to incorporate accessibility in disaster reduction plans.  In what ways were persons with disabilities included in the planning of disaster reduction plans?
What measures were in place to prevent long-term detention of persons with disabilities for the purpose of treatment?  What measures had been implemented to protect persons with psychosocial disabilities against abuse, such as restraint and segregation?  What was the current state of forced sterilisation practices?
Immigration detention facility doctors did not undergo training on supporting the needs of persons with intellectual and psychosocial impairments.  Did the State party have plans to provide necessary support for such persons in immigration detention facilities?
A Committee Expert said that around 16,000 people were under guardianship.  Did persons under guardianship have a right to challenge their guardianship?  What steps had been taken to replace substitute decision-making with supportive decision-making procedures?  Was the Government providing information and training on supportive decision-making in accessible formats?
Another Committee Expert asked about steps taken to prohibit closed psychiatric wards and monitor all forms of discrimination in psychiatric hospitals.
One Committee Expert asked whether persons with disabilities were provided with procedural accommodations in courts, regardless of whether they were victims or perpetrators.
A Committee Expert welcomed that refugees were provided with the same support services as nationals.  What measures were in place to allow foreign nationals with disabilities to access these services?  Did the Government provide psychosocial support to foreign nationals with disabilities in immigration detention?
GEREL DONDOVDORJ, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked if the State had plans to increase funding for support for women with disabilities.  Only a very small number of playgrounds were disability inclusive.  What measures were in place to increase such playgrounds?  There was a high suicide rate among persons with disabilities.  What measures were being taken to tackle this issue?
Responses by the Delegation
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, said that in designing the comprehensive survey for providing services to persons with disabilities, public hearings and briefings were held with disability experts to ensure that individual needs were measured.  Cognitive behavioural characteristics were assessed in a comprehensive manner to determine the level of benefits.  Service users would be able to choose the level of assistance they would receive through the new individual budgets system.
Social welfare public officials were required to report child abuse cases.  Such officials were provided with training on identifying, reporting and preventing abuse of children with disabilities.  The Government cooperated with child abuse prevention agencies to develop protection plans and deliver effective responses to abuse.
The sixth national action plan for persons with disabilities was now being developed.  Welfare services and child-raising were priority issues in this plan.  Children with disabilities suggested opinions about policies through an online platform.  Briefings for children on their right to political participation were held.  Funding for childcare services, education, and rehabilitation services for children with disabilities was provided by the Government.
The Republic of Korea provided support for persons with intellectual disabilities in judicial procedures.  Prosecutors underwent training on working with persons with developmental disabilities.  The Supreme Prosecutor’s Office had developed guidelines on the provision of State-funded sign language interpreters, screen reading and caption services, statement assistance and Braille notifications.  Any person with a disability could apply for these supports.  Persons with disabilities were permitted to be accompanied by carers in court.
Ten projects were in place to provide persons with disabilities with mobility assistance devices.  Assistive device centres provided accurate information about devices and device support services across the State.  One-on-one counselling on devices was provided, and persons with disabilities were given the opportunity to test and choose devices.
The Government was building a safe and inclusive disaster response system, and strengthening disaster response education.  Artificial intelligence and big data were used to provide timely, accessible information to persons with disabilities on disasters.  Emergency drills were held at schools and welfare facilities.  A comprehensive safety plan for persons with disabilities had been developed.  This plan called for increasing accessible evacuation routes and stepping up of training on supporting persons with disabilities in disaster situations.  The Government had also established development assistance projects focusing on disabilities.
Individual characteristics were used to determine whether medical treatment was provided in custody.  Legislation on the provision of medical treatment in custody was being reviewed to prevent the uniform exclusion of persons with certain disabilities.  The Government was making efforts to provide appropriate medical treatment in custody, and to terminate treatment when it was no longer required.  Persons receiving treatment could request reviews of their need for treatment.  The Government aimed to provide disability specialists and clinical psychologists in detention centres.
The Republic of Korea had enacted a framework act on low carbon and green growth, and was working to improve the climate resilience of vulnerable members of society.  The Government provided housing maintenance and shelters for people to escape extreme temperatures.  The Government would work to provide specific support to persons with disabilities.
Legal guardians were informed when persons were committed to mental hospitals, and such persons involved were informed of their rights.  Patients were required to consent to restraint and seclusion mechanisms for their own safety.  Such measures were used by psychologists only when necessary.  An operative council had promoted improvements in such institutions, such as the installation of padded cells and glass doors.  A review board had also been established to review the legitimacy of admissions and the adequacy of treatment.  Persons held in such facilities against their will could file a petition in court.
One million won in childbirth expense subsidies was provided to mothers with disabilities.  Health management centres that specifically supported women with disabilities had been established.  The Government was considering an amendment to legislation to punish coerced abortions.  Counselling for pregnant women was covered by State medical insurance.  Forced sterilisation and forced abortions were explicitly prohibited.
A foreign person entering an immigration detention centre received medical treatment from doctors in the centre.  If required, foreigners were provided support in external medical facilities.  Foreigners could receive medical treatment and prescriptions from external hospitals.  Persons with disabilities who needed special support were detained for the minimum necessary period.  Foreigners could apply for release from detention.  The Government made efforts to prevent long-time detention by regularly reviewing cases.  It was also working to improve facilities in detention centres, and was reviewing legislation to provide additional remedies for detainees.
The guardian system supported decision-making flexibly.  The Government respected the opinions of medical specialists regarding adult guardianship.  Guardianship could be terminated by family courts when requested by the person under guardianship.  Courts managed and supervised the affairs of guardians, and required them to submit reports on their activities regularly.
A master plan for Korean sign language and Braille development had been developed.  Dedicated institutions provided education on Korean sign language and Braille, as well as audio equipment and devices.  Education programmes were provided for workers in the public sector.
The Government supported persons with disabilities’ right to choose one’s residence and live independently.  People who wished to be admitted to residential facilities could apply for a pilot residential project.  In this pilot project, housing benefits, individualised support plans, and employment support was provided.  A consultative body had been established to create a roadmap to support self-reliance of persons with mental disabilities.
Questions by Committee Experts
GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked about measures to implement supportive decision making in guardianship cases.  What measures were in place to implement the Nairobi principles on abortion and prenatal treatment?  Were there plans to fund all legal costs for persons with disabilities in court?
Ms. Fefoame said that persons with disabilities had suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The mortality of persons with disabilities was 20 times higher than the rest of the population, and the infection rate was high in institutions.  What measures were in place to remedy the impact of COVID-19?
A Committee Expert said that the rate of involuntary hospitalisation had not been decreased for persons with psychosocial disabilities.  What measures were in place to deinstitutionalise persons with psychosocial disabilities?  Treatments such as electric shock therapy could be permitted by guardians.  What measures were in place to prevent guardians from permitting such treatments, and to completely prevent the treatments?
Another Committee Expert asked about measures to prevent suicide of children with disabilities.  Did the roadmap on deinstitutionalisation include measures for persons with psychosocial disabilities?
A Committee Expert said that the Convention did not allow for the isolation of persons with psychosocial disabilities in immigration detention facilities simply because of their impairment.  Only a limited number of detention facilities contained support services for persons with disabilities.  What measures were in place to provide those services in all facilities?
Another Committee Expert said that many public software and applications did not conform to accessibility guidelines.  Did the Government plan to ensure conformance to accessibility guidelines before releasing software and applications?  Persons with disabilities were prevented from taking out insurance plans.  Would the Government support persons with disabilities to take out such plans?
A Committee Expert asked about mechanisms to support employment for women and university students with disabilities.  It was very difficult for persons with disabilities to participate in online classes in universities, and many students were not able to obtain professional employment. 
One Committee Expert asked if the State party planned to intensify the Policy Committee’s meetings on disability policy, and to include persons with disabilities in deliberations.
Another Committee Expert asked about plans in place to support persons with disabilities to enjoy their right to work, and to increase wages for persons with disabilities.  Deaf persons remained disadvantaged due to a lack of adequate sign language interpreting.  What plans did the State party have to improve communication for persons who were deaf?  Migrants in Korea did not receive a disability pension.  Did the State plan to provide this pension for migrants?
A Committee Expert asked if the State party had taken steps to strengthen the National Human Rights Commission to carry out its mandate in line with the Paris Principles.
GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that over 1,000 GPS systems had been distributed to persons with disabilities.  What plans did the State party have to put a stop to this practice?
What steps had been taken to increase access to health care for persons with disabilities, especially women with disabilities?  What steps had been taken to ensure that cultural and tourist sites were accessible to persons with disabilities?  Were materials in easy-read formats being prepared to enhance the political participation of persons with disabilities?
A Committee Expert asked about measures taken to support the reproductive rights of women with disabilities.  What measures were in place to increase data collected on persons with disabilities?  What was the State’s plan to ensure the implementation of the Convention across the Asia Pacific?
GEREL DONDOVDORJ, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that children with disabilities did not receive quality education in kindergartens and day care centres.  What measures were in place to ensure that young children with disabilities received a quality education?  Some children with disabilities were placed in special classes in mainstream schools, and did not receive appropriate education.  What measures were in place to ensure that children received education support based on their needs?
Responses by the Delegation
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, said that guardianship was not based on substitutive but supportive decision-making.  The State would continue to operate the adult guardianship system in a reasonable manner.
In 2019, the Constitutional Court found that the abortion law did not conform to the Constitution.  Disability had been removed from the list of requirements for carrying out an abortion.
The Republic of Korea had acted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at a fast pace.  Care allowance incentives were provided for infected persons with disabilities.  The National Rehabilitation Centre had established beds dedicated for persons with disabilities, and was providing psychological support.  Persons with disabilities were prioritised for vaccination and testing expenses were subsidised.  The Government had published manuals on responding to COVID-19 in accessible formats.  The fatality rate in the Republic of Korea was very low in global terms.  The mortality rate was far higher for senior citizens, many of whom had disabilities, and this led to persons with disabilities having a higher mortality rate than the general population.
Persons with disabilities did not have to pay for legal aid even when their cases were not successful, and judges could rule that persons with disabilities did not have to pay other legal costs.
The Government had amended the act on mental health, tightening requirements for involuntary admission.  Involuntary admission could be approved if two or more guardians approved the request, and the person involved had a mental disorder and was a danger to themselves or others.  Within one month of admission, the regional review board was required to assess the legitimacy of admission.  The Government was reviewing the mental healthcare act, considering whether to abolish involuntary admissions and introduce supportive decision-making.
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, apologised because the Republic of Korea had not provided enough social support for families with children with disabilities in the past.  The budget for family support had been increased 24-fold since 2018.  The Government continued to scale-up care services for persons with developmental disabilities, including hobby and independent living support.  The Government aimed to provide 24-hour support for such persons, and assistance services would be broadened.  Public trust support was provided for persons with disabilities after their parents’ death.
Regarding treatments such as electric shock therapy, requirements had been strengthened so that they could only be permitted by the patients themselves.
If foreigners in immigration detention needed medical treatment, they were provided with temporary releases to receive that treatment.  Isolation was not a form of punishment used on persons with disabilities in immigration detention.  Facilities in detention centres were upgraded as necessary to accommodate persons with disabilities.  A guideline on disability management had been distributed to relevant facilities.  Information on remedies and rights was provided to inmates.  The Government planned to provide a sign language interpretation service for inmates in future.
People with children with disabilities were entitled to receive disability pensions.  The Government recognised the need to increase disability pensions, and would continue to consult on this matter.
If child abuse was discovered, victims were admitted to child welfare facilities.  Regional child rights advocacy agencies provided individualised support services to victims.
Closing Remarks
MIN SEOB YEOM, Director General, Bureau of Policy for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea and head of the delegation, extended his gratitude to the Committee for the dialogue, and thanked representatives from non-governmental organizations and civil society for their presence and participation.  Over the last 13 years, the Government had exerted various efforts to improve the rights of persons with disabilities.  Many achievements had been made, but there was still more to be done.  The Committee’s recommendations would help steer the Government in a better direction.  The Government would reflect the recommendations in the fundamental policy plan for persons with disabilities.  The Republic of Korea would continue to engage with the Committee and civil society to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities.
GERTRUDE FEFOAME, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, thanked the Republic of Korea for its participation in the dialogue, and commended the State party for its determination in implementing the Convention.  The State party needed to review the alignment of national legislation and the roadmap for independent living support with the Convention; implement a deinstitutionalisation plan; put in place an inclusive education policy; strengthen the participation of persons with disabilities in policy development and monitoring; and strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission.  Ms. Fefoame expected the State to proactively implement the Committee’s recommendations.
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https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/08/experts-committee-rights-persons-disabilities-commend-republic
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