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ILEP welcomes appointment of UN Special Rapporteur for zero discrimination of people affected by leprosy

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October 6, 2017

ILEP congratulates Alice Cruz on her appointment as a new Special Rapporteur committed to fighting against the stigma and discrimination that still faces many people affected by leprosy today.

In June 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council created the mandate for a Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.

Tanya Wood, ILEP CEO says: “We welcome the appointment of Ms Cruz to this special new role as an advocate for people affected with leprosy and their families, and wish her every success in helping to break down barriers and increase social inclusion.

“All too often people affected by leprosy are isolated or segregated from their communities, which can have a devastating impact on their daily life including their ability to work, travel and marry.

“Stigma, prejudice and discriminatory laws can deter people from seeking medical attention and being diagnosed, which hampers efforts to control and eliminate leprosy.

“We believe the new role of Special Rapporteur will play an important role in helping break the silence still associated with leprosy. By focusing on the needs and rights of those affected, together we can change lives and help end this disease.”

A Portuguese citizen, Alice Cruz is a trained anthropologist and researcher with experience in the biosocial aspects of leprosy. She has extensive experience working with grassroots organisations and currently teaches as an external professor at the Law School of University Andina Simon Bolivar in Ecuador.

ILEP research shows that 49 countries still have laws which discriminate against people affected by leprosy.

The creation of this new position resulted from the Human Rights Council Advisory Group’s review of the application of the Principles and Guidelines.

ILEP expresses thanks to the Advisory Group, Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation and the Nippon Foundation, and in particular the Government of Japan and their Ambassador in Geneva, for their high level advocacy to turn the idea of this special role into a reality.