Human Rights Issues

UN’s guidelines on Access to Social Justice for People with Disabilities


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Rights of PWDs

The United Nations has released it’s first-ever guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to access justice systems around the world.

Note: These guidelines can be used in mains answer while substantiating their rights.

Defining a person with a disability

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted in 2007 as the first major instrument of human rights in the 21st century.
  • It defines persons with disabilities as 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”.

Highlights of the Guidelines

The guidelines outline a set of 10 principles and detail the steps for implementation. The 10 principles are:

  • Principle 1: All persons with disabilities have the legal capacity and, therefore, no one shall be denied access to justice on the basis of disability.
  • Principle 2: Facilities and services must be universally accessible to ensure equal access to justice without discrimination of persons with disabilities.
  • Principle 3: PWDS including children with disabilities, have the right to appropriate procedural accommodations.
  • Principle 4: PWDS have the right to access legal notices and information in a timely and accessible manner on an equal basis with others.
  • Principle 5: PWDS are entitled to all substantive and procedural safeguards recognized in international law on an equal basis with others, and States must provide the necessary accommodations to guarantee due process.
  • Principle 6: PWDS have the right to free or affordable legal assistance.
  • Principle 7: PWDS have the right to participate in the administration of justice on an equal basis with others.
  • Principle 8: PWDS have the rights to report complaints and initiate legal proceedings concerning human rights violations and crimes, have their complaints investigated and be afforded effective remedies.
  • Principle 9: Effective and robust monitoring mechanisms play a critical role in supporting access to justice for persons with disabilities.
  • Principle 10: All those working in the justice system must be provided with awareness-raising and training programmes addressing the rights of persons with disabilities, in particular in the context of access to justice.

Significance for India

  • As per statistics maintained by the UN, in India 2.4 per cent of males are disabled and two per cent of females from all age groups are disabled.
  • Disabilities include psychological impairment, intellectual impairment, speaking, multiple impairments, hearing, seeing among others.
  • In comparison, the disability prevalence in the US is 12.9 per cent among females and 12.7 per cent among males.
  • Disability prevalence in the UK is at 22.7 per cent among females and 18.7 per cent among males.

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