U.N. disabilities rapporteur to make observation visit to North Korea

April 27 (UPI) — North Korea is making an unusual gesture to the international community by inviting a United Nations representative on the rights of the disabled to the country.

Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, will be visiting North Korea for six days to collect information on the conditions of the disabled in the country, Deutsche Welle reported Thursday.

“My upcoming visit to [North Korea] represents a key opportunity to learn firsthand about national realities, laws, policies and programs concerning people with disabilities, as well as the challenges and opportunities the government faces in implementing the convention,” Devandas-Aguilar said.

North Korea ratified the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in December 2016.

The trip begins May 3 and concludes on May 8, according to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The visit would also mark the first time Pyongyang has allowed a U.N.-appointed special rapporteur into the country since 2004, when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed one to investigate and report on North Korea’s human rights situation, according to South Korean newspaper Asia Business Daily.

Devandas-Aguilar is scheduled to visit Pyongyang and South Hwanghae Province, then hold a press conference at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang.

In April 2009, North Korea reportedly amended its constitution to include new clauses on human rights protection and in March 2015 the country sent its first troupe of disabled performers for a tour of France and Britain.

In November 2015, a Western tourist shared a photograph of a disability-accessible toilet at Sunan airport in Pyongyang, but opinions remained divided over whether the development was an indication the state is changing its attitude toward the disabled, or whether the regime was engaging in “toilet” propaganda.

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