Chapter 7. Review of Department of State: Country Reports on Human Rights, Embassy Accessibility, and Cultural Exchange Programs

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is the government agency responsible for foreign diplomacy.[1] The head of DOS, the Secretary of State, is the President’s lead foreign policy advisor. The agency’s mission is to “[a]dvance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.”[2]

The current priorities for DOS are to protect the United States and its citizens; promote democracy and human rights; protect and promote U.S. interests, values, and policies; and support all of those in the field implementing the foreign policy initiatives that help make these other goals a reality.[3] More concretely, DOS day-to-day duties include managing all U.S. embassies and consular offices in foreign countries, negotiating treaties and agreements on issues ranging from trade to weaponry, organizing the international activities of other departments and hosting official visits, and managing the U.S. foreign relations budget.[4] Of particular relevance for the purposes of this report are the roles that DOS plays in monitoring country human rights conditions through its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Also, DOS oversees embassy and mission accessibility and implementation of cultural exchange programs, most notably those of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

In June 2010, the Obama administration created a new position within DRL to further its commitment to supporting the CRPD, the Special Advisor on International Disability Rights.[5] The purpose of the Special Advisor is to “include issues affecting people with disabilities across the world in all aspects of [DOS] work.”[6] The National Council on Disability commends this appointment and recommends that DOS provide adequate resources in order to achieve the objectives of that office.

The sections that follow address disability inclusion within the context of the DOS Country Reports on Human Rights, embassy accessibility (premises and information), and accessibility of cultural exchange programs funded by DOS.

Country Reports on Human Rights

The Office of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) within DOS submits Country Reports on Human Rights Practices annually to Congress in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.[7] These laws require the Secretary of State to provide to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate “a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act.”[8] According to DRL, “[t]he reports cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,”[9] and consist of some 5,000 pages on human rights conditions in more than 190 countries that is respected globally for its objectivity and accuracy.”[10] Critically, for people seeking asylum, DRL also provides relevant information on country conditions to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and immigration judges in asylum cases.[11]

In 2003, NCD recommended that Congress require DOS to document human rights violations against people with disabilities in the Country Reports.[12] In follow-up, this study reviewed the 194 Country Reports on Human Rights from 2009 to determine whether and how violations were documented. Information on disability can be found under Section 6: Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons in these reports, within a subsection entitled “Persons with Disabilities,” usually following subsections on “Women and Children.”[13] Of the 194 reports, all except Western Sahara include the “Persons with Disabilities” subsection.[14] The introduction to Section 6 provides an overview as to whether certain populations are protected by law and states generally, and whether these laws are enforced or not, sometimes with references to people with disabilities.[15] In addition, each Country Report begins with a summary introduction to the full report, which may or may not mention people with disabilities.[16]

In-Depth Review of Reports

The disability subsections in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reviewed for the purposes of this report ranged widely in scope, specificity, and length. Some were cast in very general terms and were therefore of little utility.[17] Other reports used government information or other data to provide statistics on the status of people with disabilities in employment, education, health care, and other spheres.[18] Statistics about people with disabilities in the legal system were informative,[19] and information about government agencies responsible for disability issues[20] improved the usefulness of the report. The more informative reports provided illustrations of specific human rights violations and actions to prevent such violations in the future.[21] There was a correlation between the number of sources referenced in the report, including media sources, government sources, DPOs, and NGOs, and the depth and development of the report.[22]

In order to perform a more complete analysis of the overall breadth of the 2009 reports, the inclusion of information from nine categories was examined for each country: (1) concrete statistics on employment, education, and health care; (2) the rights of workers with disabilities; (3) laws that prohibit discrimination or require accommodations for people with disabilities; (4) specific government agencies or departments; (5) specific international and domestic NGOs and DPOs; (6) specific examples of human rights violations; (7) political/civic participation; (8) additional information on women or children with disabilities; and (9) additional information located outside the “Persons with Disabilities” subsection. The number of country reports that contained information from each category was recorded and calculated as a percentage of total country reports.

The review does not evaluate each country’s human rights record; it simply assesses the inclusion of information in the reports.[23] For example, although 98.5 percent of the country reports mention whether there are laws regarding discrimination against people with disabilities, not every country in this group has or enforces such laws. The table below illustrates the review with a description of each category and the percentage of total country reports that include information from these categories.

 

Category

Description of Category

% of
Country Reports
That Include Information
from Category

Concrete statistics on employment, education, and health care

N/A

23.20%

The rights of workers with disabilities

Policies that require a certain percentage of employees with disabilities. Also includes the mention of any discrimination against employees with disabilities. Some reports included information on workers with disabilities in Section 7, Workers’ Rights.

22.70%

Laws that prohibit discrimination or require accommodations for people with disabilities

Whether laws exist that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and/or require reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

98.50%

Specific government agencies or departments

Identifies specific departments, agencies, or ministries that provide services to people with disabilities, or provide support to DPOs and NGOs that work with people with disabilities.

67.50%

Specific international and domestic DPOs and NGOs

Discusses specific DPOs and NGOs that advocate for the rights of people with disabilities; provide aid, funding, and services to people with disabilities; or conduct research on human rights violations against people with disabilities.

34.50%

Specific examples of human rights violations

Discusses specific and individual examples of human rights violations against people with disabilities (e.g., provides names of victims, specific dates, locations, and the type of discrimination).

13.90%

Political/civic participation

Election access for people with disabilities. This category includes reports that discuss access to polling places and voting ballots for people with disabilities. It also includes reports that mention congressional/parliamentary quotas (positions that are designated for people with disabilities).

10.80%

Additional information on women or children with disabilities

Reports that specifically mention the status of women or children with disabilities. This information could be found either under the “Persons with Disabilities” section or elsewhere in the report.

20.10%

Additional information located outside “Persons with Disabilities” section

This category is included to show the number of country reports that mention disability issues in other sections. The sections that are most likely to include such information are Section 5, Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights, Section 2, Respect for Civil Liberties, Section 1, Respect for the Integrity of the Person, and Section 7, Workers’ Rights.

24.70%

 

Selected Country Analysis

The following are summaries of both good models for reporting on the human rights of people with disabilities and examples of human rights reporting on people with disabilities that could be improved through deeper research garnering detail from additional sources; going into greater detail and depth; and eliciting information directly from in-country DPOs or international organizations working in country or having knowledge of the local disability community.
 
In Ghana, the Country Report drew on different sources to give a complete and illustrative picture of discrimination against people with disabilities.[1] The report drew from news sources, government agencies, NGOs, and disability and human rights activists.[2] It highlighted the mechanisms of Ghana’s legal system through mentioning the role of its constitution, courts, and legislature.[3] In addition, the report drew attention to both societal/religious views on disability and specific cases of abuse and disability discrimination.[4]
 
Uganda also provides a useful example of detailed reporting, as the Country Report critically and thoroughly evaluated human rights violations against people with disabilities.[5] The report noted that while legislation prohibits discrimination and protects people with disabilities, the law was seldom enforced.[6] The report also noted that several complaints had been filed with the Uganda Human Rights Commission and described specific cases of discrimination and action taken to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities.[7] Notably, the embassy communicated with DPOs to create the report and also researched the role of several government agencies, which enhanced the coverage.[8]
 
The embassy in Russia, likewise, undertook a detailed review in its reporting on people with disabilities. The Country Report for Russia was well documented and included population statistics, news sources, and material from government agencies, DPOs, and NGOs.[9] It also included a detailed analysis of disability law (or lack thereof) in Russia, including building accessibility, voting, education, and employment.[10] Further, the report highlighted failed mechanisms of preventing discrimination in access to employment and education and procedures for contesting institutionalization.[11] Significantly, the links between the embassy and USAID mission in Russia to disability groups are strong, suggesting a correlation between engagements with DPOs and detailed reporting.
 
The Country Report for Armenia provided more detailed coverage of disability issues than other reports. Notably, the Armenian report was one of the very few to specifically reference people with disabilities in its introductory summary.[12] Sources for the report varied, including material from NGOs, government agencies, and news sources, disclosing a depth of research that few of the reports matched.[13] The report documented specific instances of discrimination and abuse against people with disabilities.[14] It also addressed shortcomings in implementation: While Armenian law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, building access, and other services, discrimination still remained a significant problem.[15]

The 2009 Country Human Rights Report for India also served as a useful example of detailed reporting on the human rights situation of people with disabilities. The report used a variety of sources, including information from NGOs, government agencies, statistics from the World Bank, universities, news sources, and relevant disability law.[16] The report also cited information disclosing government action plans to combat discrimination in employment and education and also provided details on different projects and resources implemented by agencies, DPOs, and NGOs.[17]

While the above represent examples of disability rights reporting that clearly meet human rights reporting standards, other reports fall below these standards and are, in some instances, of little value. Thus, in Namibia, while the embassy’s report did reference the previous year’s report, the report only mentioned the role of one government agency and included mostly generalized statements.[18] More depth into legal mechanisms of action and specific examples of discrimination would be helpful. Similarly, Zambia’s 2009 Country Report was extremely brief and provided little useful information on the status of people with disabilities.[19] The report only referenced one news source and one government agency.[20] The embassy did not reach out to local DPOs and thus did not properly address the human rights of people with disabilities in its research.[21] This is surprising given that Zambia’s umbrella DPO coalition, the Zambian Federation of Persons with Disabilities, is very well known to USAID and other donors for its work in the area of disability inclusion in HIV/AIDS programming and for its active role in ensuring that the new Zambian Constitution explicitly references disability as a prohibited ground of discrimination, among other disability rights advocacy efforts.

The sparseness of the disability section in Nepal’s 2009 Country Report was even more remarkable, consisting of only one paragraph.[22] Brief mention was given to the lack of disability laws and enforcement of law to prevent discrimination in employment, education, health care, and access to other state services.[23] No coverage was provided of the ongoing efforts of the local disability community to establish independent living centers and engage in national law reform, nor was any attention given to the well-known efforts on the part of the disability community to engage in the constitution drafting process. More specific examples of discrimination, an in-depth review of disability law, and the use of additional sources would very likely have uncovered some of these details and made for a more enlightening read.

A final illustration underscoring the limitations of scant disability rights coverage is the Colombian 2009 Country Report.[24] The “Persons with Disabilities” section only mentioned the government agency designated to protect the rights of people with disabilities and that some disability law preventing discrimination existed.[25] There was no mention of communication with DPOs or NGOs.[26] It stands to reason that communication between the Human Rights Officer at the embassy and the democracy and governance staff at USAID might foster the kind of information flow that is essential to meaningful human rights reporting.

In reviewing the level of detail and information provided in the various reports, it is clear that embassy officials should use the resources available to them. In particular, they should be encouraged to reach out to local DPOs and international disability organizations to ensure that the situation of people with disabilities is accurately reflected and included in these reports.[27] Many Human Rights Officers reported being unaware of any DPOs in the country in which they worked and therefore did not consult with a DPO while drafting the report.[28] To be sure, Human Rights Officers cannot be expected to possess expert, in-depth knowledge of all human rights matters in the country in which they work. They can, however, adhere to best practices in human rights reporting in the areas they do cover and achieve a baseline of quality reporting for those human rights issues. Ensuring disability rights training and materials in Human Rights Officer development is one approach that could, over time, make quality disability rights reporting the norm in all country human rights reports.

Embassy Accessibility

Local advocates conducted interviews and assessments in 14 U.S. embassies in developing countries to determine the accessibility of the facilities, programs, and employment opportunities administered by the embassy for people with disabilities.

Security Concerns Trump Accessibility

The main finding from the site visits by local advocates was that security concerns trumped accessibility for people with disabilities. Repeatedly, as local advocates identified accessibility issues with embassy officials, embassy officials responded by citing security as the main reason a facility or service was not accessible. Interview responses disclosed no case in which discussion about how accessibility for people with disabilities could be achieved within the framework of ensuring the security of facilities and information. One prominent example reported in many of the in-country interviews described the inoperability of push-button doors—which accommodate people who use wheelchairs and other people with mobility disabilities—in embassies or missions as a result of security concerns. Local advocates noted that there were electronic push buttons for many entranceway doors, but in many instances those push buttons were turned off due to “security concerns” that the door might open on its own after the button was pushed. The concerns cited did not offer reasoning or actual data concerning threats to security, but rather highlighted the fact that security trumps accessibility.

Security concerns were also cited as the reason that certain materials on websites remain inaccessible. The main websites for embassies were all accessible for screen-reading technology used by people who are blind, have low vision, or have print disabilities, but certain information and materials that were links off the main page were not accessible. Embassy officials noted that some documents had to be “locked,” making them inaccessible to screen-reading technology, for security purposes. The embassy officials did not purport to have a great deal of knowledge about “open-source” documents that are accessible to screen-readers versus “locked” documents, but they did believe that documents were locked owing to security concerns (e.g., because it is easier to replicate information from open-source documents, thus it is easier to alter information on important forms, such as visa applications, if the document is open-sourced). This is another example of security concerns trumping accessibility and points to the fact that DOS and other U.S. Government agencies need to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities and reconcile this issue with security measures.

Information and Materials Are Not Provided in Accessible Formats

Taking appropriate measures to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy equal access to information and communications, including information and communication technologies and systems, is surely part of effective diplomacy, development, and conflict prevention and resolution. The provision of information and services in accessible and usable formats for people with disabilities is one area where, in response to the query of the Secretary of State in the QDDR (“How can we do better?”),[29] DOS can and should do better.

A key finding resulting from the in-country assessments was that embassies are not providing information and materials in accessible formats to people with disabilities with any degree of consistency. There are various manifestations of this shortcoming. The majority of embassy assessments found that U.S. embassies do not provide sign language interpreters for visa applicants. In Zambia, the embassy noted that it does not provide sign language interpreters on the basis that language interpreters are not provided to visa applicants. Follow-up questions regarding this issue revealed that embassy officials may not have an awareness of the distinction between providing language interpreters for people who do not speak English and sign language interpreters as an accommodation for applicants with disabilities. Further, not every embassy assessed provides visa applications in an accessible format to people who are blind, have low vision, or have print disabilities. While paper visa applications are still standard in many embassies, there is a shift toward electronic applications. The embassy officials interviewed could not answer questions about the accessibility of electronic visa applications, but they all expressed interest in making sure those documents are provided in an accessible format online. More must be done to address the prevalence of PDF documents, as these are very difficult for persons who use screen-reading technology to access.

With specific regard to website accessibility, all of the main embassy websites reviewed as part of the assessment were accessible to screen-reading technology; however, not all of the links from the main website were accessible to various screen readers.[30] Further, many embassy websites failed to list TTY (teletypewriter) numbers for people who are deaf and who use this technology.

The local advocate in Nepal drafted a detailed and informative summary of the embassy assessment that reflects many of the issues that were pointed out in other embassy assessments:

The U.S. Embassy and USAID are in the same building. The building, constructed in 2007, is on the same level which allows access to wheelchair users, but, although they claim they follow the ADA completely, we could not find any consideration for visually impaired persons, like tactile block, signage size, text design, color and contrast, sign positioning, handrail texture, railings, lighting and switches to find the way, the use of colors combination in the interior design. There was not any sound system in the elevator and the elevator did not make it possible for a wheelchair user to get out without turning the chair. The toilet is accessible to wheelchair users, but the level of washbasin and urinals is too high for wheelchair users. There was a small library for the general public, but we could not find any materials for visually impaired people (but they show interest to add material for visually impaired people). We could not find any system, programs or even the future plan to address the issues in accessibility for other kind of disability like people who are deaf or hearing impaired, intellectual disability, blind and physical disabilities. Most interestingly when we asked to show the VISA interview section to assess whether the sill height of the VISA interview window is suitable for wheelchair users or not, they did not show any interest to address our request although the visa section is open to the general public.[31]

The advocate in Armenia noted that the embassy was fairly accessible to people who use wheelchairs but expressed other accessibility concerns similar to those raised in the Nepal assessment: “[T]here were no specific facilities for people who are deaf or blind. We did not notice any yellow signs, no voice commands in elevators.” The local advocate in Colombia was allowed to view the visa interview window and noted that it was not accessible to people who use wheelchairs. He also noted that while the visa office does have an accessible window (placed at a height reachable for a wheelchair user), it was not being used for this purpose: It was serving as a bookcase. This issue was brought to the attention of embassy officials and they immediately opened the window for visa interviews.

Cultural Exchanges: Ensuring Inclusion of People with Disabilities in the Design and Implementation of Cultural Exchange Programs

The United States has a long and justifiably proud history of facilitating cultural exchange programs around the world.[32] Indeed, for more than half a century the United States has supported a wide variety of international educational and cultural exchange programs to enhance cross-cultural understanding and to build bridges between communities as a means of peace-building.[33] These programs take many forms and have been particularly successful in bringing future leaders from around the world to the United States to experience the American educational system, enhance their knowledge in major fields of study, and explore American culture and values.[34] At the same time, cultural exchange programs provide Americans with invaluable experiences and insight from other countries.[35] The cultural exchange programs funded by the U.S. Government are extensive and far-reaching and, in line with the stated objectives of the Obama Administration, are likely to be incrementally increased over time.[36] As such, it is vital that cultural exchange programs be accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities.

Various educational and cultural exchange programs are sponsored and operated through U.S. embassies abroad, many in partnership with governmental and nongovernmental institutions. These include the variety of exchanges falling within the J-1 Private Programs and include programs to the United States, such as au pair programs, internships, and summer/work and travel programs.[37] In addition, there are a variety of academic exchange programs, which differ by region, embassy, and supporting organization. The DOS Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funds several prestigious exchange programs (Fulbright, Humphrey, State, and Muskie)[38] that are offered out of nearly every U.S. embassy in the world.

The Fulbright Program, a prestigious grant program for international educational exchange for scholars, educators, graduate students, and professionals,[39] is an example of a cultural exchange program that has developed policies to include people with disabilities.[40] The program includes staff training on the inclusion of people with disabilities in cultural exchange programs, and uses the resources and manuals from Mobility International USA (MIUSA), an organization specializing in international exchange programs for people with disabilities.[41] Training resources from MIUSA include recruitment materials,[42] participant advising,[43] overseas placement,[44] and general suggestions[45] for including students with disabilities in exchange programs. The Fulbright Program also refers people to a MIUSA-administered webinar on inclusive cultural exchange programs that is funded by DOS.[46] Additionally, Fulbright applicants are subject to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961,[47] which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.[48] The Fulbright Program is a good example of a cultural exchange program that is accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities, and DOS should be commended for its implementation and encouraged to ensure that all cultural exchange programs run out of embassies are accessible to people with disabilities.

In addition to the aforementioned cultural exchange programs, DOS funds a MIUSA program to implement high school exchange programs for students with disabilities. These programs work with international high school students with disabilities on developing their advocacy skills and assist with their transition to living in the United States.[49] These programs not only help to prepare students with disabilities to benefit the most from DOS-funded cultural exchange programs, but they also provide an important guiding practice for the inclusion of students with disabilities in exchange programs.

Conclusion

The foregoing findings reveal some considerable progress in embassy accessibility, in disability inclusion in the context of cultural exchange programs funded by DOS, and in the coverage of the human rights of people with disabilities in the DOS Country Human Rights Reports. At the same time, the review revealed gaps and areas where more progress can and should be made, particularly in light of the strong commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities reflected in the QDDR.

The DOS Country Human Rights Reports have strengthened their coverage of disability human rights issues. Still, there is considerable room for improvement as coverage remains inconsistent across the Reports. Providing Human Rights Officers with a user-friendly basic template that tracks key components of the CRPD coupled with improved training on disability human rights issues would no doubt help standardize reporting. The recent appointment of a Disability Human Rights Advisor at DOS provides an opportune time for review and revisions to improve current practice.

Incremental improvements in embassy and mission accessibility are readily apparent, and yet the review revealed remaining gaps that require attention. These include ensuring that embassy services and information are readily accessible to persons with disabilities. In addition, there must be continued review of security measures with the aim of introducing measures that mitigate barriers.

In the context of cultural exchange and with the aim of ensuring that programs funded by DOS are made accessible, DOS should support trainings for staff of cultural exchange programs on the inclusion of people with disabilities. The adoption of specific disability-inclusive mission statements and policies that encourage qualified people with disabilities to apply would likely attract greater participation. Improvements should be made to ensure that all information on programs is in accessible alternative formats (website materials, print, and in person) and that accessible housing options are available, along with individualized accommodations.

Footnotes

[1] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Ghana (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135956.htm

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Uganda (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135982.htm.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Russia (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136054.htm.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Armenia (March 10,, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136018.htm.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: India, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136087.htm.

[17] Id.

[18] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Namibia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135968.htm.

[19] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Zambia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135983.htm.

[20] Id.

[21] Id.

[22] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Nepal, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136091.htm.

[23] Id.

[24] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Colombia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136106.htm.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Even where local disabled people’s organizations are not readily identifiable to embassy personnel, one or two well-placed e-mails, either to the disability human rights advisor at DOS, the disability advisor at USAID, or to any number of international organizations working on disability rights (many of them in developing countries), would yield local DPO contact information.

[28] DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Mexico, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/ 2009/wha/136119.htm; DOS, supra note 337.

[29] QDDR, supra note 14.

[30] Twenty-two embassy websites were reviewed.

[31] Local advocate interview, U.S. embassy, Nepal.

[32] “About the Bureau [of Educational and Cultural Affairs],” http://exchanges.state.gov/about.html.

[34] See DOS, “About the Bureau,” supra note 350.

[35] Id.

[36] See President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, “Cultural Exchange,” http://www.pcah.gov/cultural-exchange. See also, DOS, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs [hereafter ECA], “About the Bureau,” http://exchanges.state.gov/about.html.

[39] Id.

[40] See DOS, “Fulbright,” http://fulbright.state.gov/.

[41] MIUSA National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, “Tools for Exchange Professionals,” http://www.miusa.org/ncde/tools/index_html.

[42] Id.

[43] Id.

[44] Id.

[45] Id.

[46] Council for International Exchange of Scholars, “Fulbright Specialist Program,” http://www.cies.org/Webinar/2010/030310_Disabilities.pdf.

[47] “[N]o qualified disabled candidate will be subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability....” Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended, 22 U.S.C. § 2450 (2010).

[48] Id.

[49] See MIUSA, “U.S. State Department High School Exchange Programs: A-SMYLE, FLEX, & YES,” http://www.miusa.org/exchange/flexyes.


[2] See DOS, “Bureau of Research Management,” http://www.state.gov/s/d/rm/index.htm.

[3] See DOS, “Diplomacy: The U.S. Department of State at Work” (June 2008), at 1, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/46839.pdf.

[4] Id.

[5] See DOS, “Conversations with America: International Disability Rights,” http://www.state.gov/r/pa/plrmo/cwa/156916.htm.

[6] Id.

[7] See DOS, “Human Rights Reports,” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] See DOS, “Human Rights,” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/index.htm.

[11] Examining the implications of the country human rights reports and other human rights documentation provided by DOS to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for asylum seekers is beyond the scope of this report. It stands to reason, however, that gaps in reporting on the human rights situation of marginalized populations is likely to have a chilling effect on successful asylum claims. Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest that the lack of information on the human rights of people with disabilities is a barrier to successful asylum claims. See, for example, Arlene S. Kanter, Chisam, and Nugent, ”The Right to Asylum and Need for Legal Representation of People with Mental Disabilities in Immigration Proceedings,” 25 Mental & Physical Disability L. Rep. 511 (2001).

[12] NCD, Foreign Policy and Disability, supra note 50.

[13] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Israel and Occupied Territories (March 11, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136070.htm.

[14] Although the territory is claimed by Morocco, Western Sahara’s sovereignty is disputed. Presently, the country falls under Moroccan jurisdiction, and the Moroccan kingdom extends its laws, civil liberties, and restrictions to the Western Saharan population. The report’s information about Western Sahara was obtained through the diplomatic mission to Morocco. It is also important to note that the United States does not have a diplomatic mission in Iran. All available information in the country report was gathered through nongovernmental sources.

[15] For instance, the Kazakhstan report states, “Violence against women, trafficking in persons, and discrimination against persons with disabilities, homosexual activity, and nonethnic Kazakhs in government were problems.” DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kazakhstan (March 11, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136088.htm.

[16] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Romania (March 11, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136053.htm.

[17] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Cameroon (March 11, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135942.htm

[18] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kenya (March 11, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135959.htm

[19] Id.

[20] See DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kosovo (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136039.htm

[21] See, e.g., DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Thailand (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136010.htm.

[22] See, e.g., DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: India (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136087.htm; see also DOS, 2009 Human Rights Report: Russia (March 10, 2010), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136054.htm.

[23] It is not within the scope of this study to fully review the human rights situation of people with disabilities in each country; rather, this report aims to review whether and how DOS investigates and reports on such violations in country reports.

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