The United Nations have published a highly critical report which states austerity policies introduced into welfare and social care by the UK government amount to “systematic violations” of the rights of people with disabilities.
The report comes from the United Nations’ Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which conducted an inquiry following a formal complaint by UK disability campaigners:
Disability rights UK (DR UK) called for evidence, between September and October 2016, on the UK’s performance under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland have been doing the same.
DR UK wanted responses (which could be submitted via online surveys or participation at events) to the following two questions:
1. What are the priority issues that you believe should be included in our report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
2. Why do you consider these to be priorities and what evidence can you provide to show that there is or could be an adverse impact on the rights of persons with disabilities?
You can read DR UK’s full update here
Whilst Disability News Service hailed the report as ‘a vindication for activists‘, the UK government concernedly rejected it. Work and pensions secretary Damien Green even slammed the report for being ‘patronising and offensive‘…Mr Green went on saying that the UK is in his eyes ‘a world leader in disability rights and equality’.
According to Disability People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mr Green demonstrated ‘ contempt for international law, treaty obligations and diplomatic protocols […] in leaking the report to a ‘friendly’ newspaper for purposes of party political propaganda with the intention of deflecting criticism’.
Another reason for concerns for our Human Rights is the fact that mental health laws are ‘intrinsically discriminatory‘ as Dr Rachel Perkins said in a presentation to the Disability Rights UK annual conference. Evidence of the discriminatory nature of mental health legislation will be included in the shadow report being compiled by Disability Rights UK.
Challenge the government’s position concerning the UN report and support disability rights
At the time this article was written (Nov. 2016), people could take action in the following ways:
Put pressure on the government to implement the recommendations included in the UNCRPD report: sign and circulate this petition
Letter to the ICC at the Hague re mistreatment of the disabled: you can add your name
Support disability rights: visit this site
Challenge services and authorities about your Human Rights
NSUN has been working alongside the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) to raise more awareness of the possibility to challenge services on the basis of Human Rights violations. The work, which included workshops, has led to the production of a toolkit, ‘Mental Health, Mental Capacity and Human Rights‘
Have you got experience of challenging organisations or authorities about your Human Rights? Did you use the toolkit? Would you consider using it in the future?
Please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Express your views about the Mental Health Act
Back in Nov 2016, people could also take a survey to share their views on the Mental Health Act. The survey is now closed and results have been analysed in order to illustrate a report.