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UN report of violation of rights ignored

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UN report, grave and systematic violation of disabled people's rights, petitionCall for the UK government to act on the eleven recommendations of UN report.

The UK government has been found guilty of ‘grave and systematic violations of the rights of disabled people as a direct result of austerity policies introduced into welfare and social care’ after being investigated by a United Nations committee for not fulfilling the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The UN’s report on this matter says a range of measures including controversial cuts to disability benefits, social care budgets and the introduction of the bedroom tax, have disproportionately and adversely affected the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work and achieve an adequate standard of living.

It makes 11 recommendations, including calling on the government to carry out a study of the cumulative impact of all spending cuts on the disabled and to ensure human rights of disabled people are upheld.

The invesitating committee recommends that’ the State party’ (the UK government):

(1) Conduct a cumulative impact assessment of the measures adopted since 2010, referred to in the present report, on the rights to independent living and to be included in the community, social protection and employment of persons with disabilities. The State party should ensure that such assessment is rights-based and meaningfully involves persons with disabilities and their representative organizations;

(2) Ensure that any intended measure of the welfare reform is rights-based, upholds the human rights model of disability and does not disproportionately and/or adversely affect the rights of persons with disabilities to independent living, an adequate standard of living and employment. To prevent adverse consequences, the State party should carry out human rights-based cumulative impact assessments of the whole range of intended measures that would have an impact on the rights of persons with disabilities;

(3) Ensure that: any intended legislation and/or policy measure respects the core elements of the rights analysed in the present report; persons with disabilities retain their autonomy, choice and control over their place of residence and with whom they live; they receive appropriate and individualized support, including through personal assistance, and have access to community-based services on an equal basis with others; they have access to security social schemes that ensure income protection, including in relation to the extra cost of disability, that is compatible with an adequate standard of living and ensure their full inclusion and participation in society; and they have access and are supported in gaining employment in the open labour market on an equal basis with others;

(4) Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures;

(5) Introduce all adjustments necessary to make all information, communications, administrative and legal procedures in relation to social security entitlements, independent living schemes and employment/unemployment-related support services fully accessible to all persons with disabilities;

(6) Ensure access to justice, by providing appropriate legal advice and support, including through reasonable and procedural accommodation for persons with disabilities seeking redress and reparation for the alleged violation of their rights, as covered in the present report;

(7) Actively consult and engage with persons with disabilities through their representative organizations and give due consideration to their views in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of any legislation, policy or programme action related to the rights addressed in the present report;

(8) Take appropriate measures to combat any negative and discriminatory stereotypes or prejudice against persons with disabilities in public and the media, including that dependency on benefits is in itself a disincentive of employment; implement broad mass media campaigns, in consultation with organizations representing persons with disabilities, particularly those affected by the welfare reform, to promote them as full rights holders, in accordance with the Convention; and adopt measures to address complaints of harassment and hate crime by persons with disabilities, promptly investigate those allegations, hold the perpetrators accountable and provide fair and appropriate compensation to victims;

(9) Ensure that, in the implementation of legislation, policies and programmes, special attention is paid to persons with disabilities living with a low income or in poverty and persons with disabilities at higher risk of exclusion, such as persons with intellectual, psychosocial or multiple disabilities and women, children and older persons with disabilities. Those measures should be put in place within contributive and non-contributive regimes;

(10) Set up a mechanism and a system of human rights-based indicators to permanently monitor the impact of the different policies and programmes relating to the access and enjoyment by persons with disabilities of the right to social protection and an adequate standard of living, the right to live independently and be included in the community and the right to work, in close consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all regions and countries that constitute the State party;

(11) Respond to the present report within the time limit prescribed under the Optional Protocol, widely disseminate the Committee’s findings and recommendations and provide appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the present report, including during the consideration of the State party’s initial report before the Committee.

Since the ground-breaking report was published, the government – the first to be investigated by the UN over such allegations – has refused to make a statement to MPs, although in its response to the UN it dismissed all 11 of the report’s recommendations.

Asked by DNS why there had been no debate in parliament on the report, and why work and pensions secretary Damian Green had failed to issue a written statement, a Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “It is for Parliament to determine the daily business of the House and the Commons.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, when asked why the UN report had not yet been debated in parliament said MPs had referred to it in speeches earlier that day when debating a motion he moved that called on the government to abandon its planned cuts of £30 a week for new ESA WRAG claimants from April next year.

But he promised that Labour would force a debate on the report.

Speaking to DNS at a protest organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to mark the death last week of its co-founder Debbie Jolly, to call for an end to the government’s welfare reforms, and to highlight its “outrageous” refusal to accept any of the UN report’s 11 recommendations, McDonnell said: “Whether we do it on opposition day or backbench day we will choose a time to do that.

“It’s just a matter of finding the parliamentary time to do it, but we will find the time to do it, because we need to hold the minister to account on it.”

In the meantime, please sign this petition.

You can read the full UN report here.

Thank you.

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