Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Ratification of CRPD
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been ratified or acceded to by 177 states (November 2018). The European Union is also a party to the Convention.
Article 2 defines discrimination on the basis of disability as “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”. Article 4 puts an obligation on states parties “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”, and this includes “to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention” and “to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities”.
Article 5 states 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” and article 7 provides specifically for 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….”
Articles 15 and 16 are directly relevant to corporal punishment of children:
Art. 15: “(1) No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…. (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.”
Art. 16: “(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 … (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 confirms the right of every person with disabilities “to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others”.
General Comments adopted by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
In 2016, the Committee adopted General Comment No.4 on "Article 24: Right to inclusive education". The Committee is clear that States parties must prohibit all forms of corporal punishment (para. 49): “The Committee strongly endorses the recommendations of the CRC, the Human Rights Committee and CESCR that States parties must prohibit all forms of corporal punishment, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in all settings, including schools, and ensure effective sanctions against perpetrators.”
General Comment No. 6 on "Equality and non-discrimination" was adopted in 2018 and reiterates States parties' obligation to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings (para. 37): "In many States parties, for instance, children can lawfully be assaulted under the guise of “discipline” or “safety” (e.g. restraint). This physical punishment often disproportionately affects children with disabilities. States parties must prohibit all forms of corporal punishment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of children, in all settings, and ensure appropriate measures are taken to enforce this ban."
Statements by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
In March 2022, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Committee on the Rights of the Child released a joint statement on “The rights of children with disabilities”.
In the statement, the Committees recall the common obligation of States parties to the CRC and/or the CRPD to take measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination including multiple and intersectional discrimination. These measures can be of a legislative, educational, administrative, cultural, political, among others, and in areas including health, social services, education and justice.
The Committees expressed concern that discrimination against children with disabilities make them disproportionately vulnerable to violence, including corporal punishment, neglect and abuse, in all settings, such as the family home, mental health, educational, or child care institutions.
The Committees therefore called on States parties to urgently adopt comprehensive strategies to eliminate violence against children with disabilities. These strategies should comprise preventive measures including by raising awareness in society, educating parents, training professionals, educating children with disabilities about their rights and how to exercise them.
The Committee’s recommendations to states parties
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities began examining states parties on their implementation of CRPD in September 2012. As at October 2019, the Committee has issued 33 recommendations/observations to 32 states.
Recommendations by the Committee to states on corporal punishment of children will be accessible here by session as they become available. They are also included in the individual country reports.
Communications/inquiries under CRPD
The Optional Protocol to the Convention provides for communications and inquiry procedures and as at November 2018 had been ratified by 92 states. No cases concerning corporal punishment have yet been brought to the Committee.
- All of the Committee's recommendations are included in the individual country reports for the state concerned
- List of ratifying states
- Full text of the CRPD
- All of the Committee's General Comments
- For information on using communications and inquires procedures to pursue prohibition of corporal punishment of children, email firstname.lastname@example.org