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Today, United Nations officials will hear evidence from country-wide disability organisations that show the government’s “ongoing human rights violations” have put it in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.
After being warned last October that welfare cuts have led to “grave and systematic violations” of rights, the UK government is now under investigation by the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Campaigners have called the government’s lack of action:
“complacency at best and high-handed evasion at worst”
A collection of evidence submitted by the disability groups’ includes:
- Lack of accessible housing
- Decline in disabled children in education
- Cuts to health and social services
- Rapidly growing use of compulsory detention and forced treatment powers contained in mental health legislation
- Plans to cap funding for support that allows disabled people to work
- The level of hate crime
Due to this disturbing disregard for their rights, the disabled community has been left to face “serious discrimination” in educational, employment and social opportunities.
“Regressing on disability rights”
Disability Rights UK have told how the government have ignored the findings and recommendations of the report, as well as the UN’s. They accuse the government of dismissing the “lived experiences, views and interests of Disabled people in the UK”.
Had the government abided by the agreement then things could be very different. Disability Rights UK chief executive Kamran Mallick is set to tell the investigation that:
Many cannot live independent, fulfilling lives – but could enjoy if the Government respected the convention
The government is largely considered as “regressing on disability rights” rather than improving them, or even maintaining them. Sue Bott, deputy CEO for Disability Rights UK and co-author of the report, told The Independent:
The Government will claim we’re world leaders in disability rights, but actually, things have gone rapidly backwards in the last 10 years. We are a developed, rich country and here we are regressing on disability rights.
Representatives for the UK will be questioned by the UN committee in Geneva on 23rd and 24th August.
The government responded to the report by suggesting it had:
a long tradition of respecting human rights and continues to promote the social model of disability
This view is not supported by the experts involved in the investigation, and past and present evidence appears to suggest otherwise. Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives, said:
“To date responses from the government have failed to acknowledge the existence, let alone the scale of this problem – a problem that is having a dramatic adverse impact on the lives of millions of disabled people and our families every day”
Many disabled people felt that they were offered a level of protection by the UK’s involvement in the UN international convention, however the government have clearly not taken their participation in the agreement seriously.
Kamran Mallick, Disability Rights UK, said:
Many disabled people and their families saw the UK’s signature of the international convention as a vital milestone on the journey to true equality and the fulfillment that comes with leading independent, rounded lives.
They now feel betrayed by the Government’s failure to adhere to either the spirit or the letter of the convention.
There is also a level of unease about how disabled people will be affected by Brexit; EU legislation which protects disability rights and funding to various grants are both under threat.
Hopefully the UN investigation will discourage the UK from continuing it’s shameful mistreatment of the disabled community.
However, when the Tories have failed to even bother honouring their current agreements, it is scary to imagine what further cuts and reduction of rights the Tories are planning following Brexit.
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