UNCRPD summons UK government over human rights abuses

  • Post last modified:March 7, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

The UN is once again hauling the Conservative-led UK government in front of it, over at-home violations of chronically ill and disabled people’s human rights under the so-called UNCRPD.

The UNCRPD and the UK government

As the Canary has documented, the UNCRPD is a human rights branch of the UN. It oversees the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The UK has signed up to this conventions. However, in 2016 the UNCRPD assessed how the country was sticking to the rules. It found that successive UK governments had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.

Every so often, the UNCRPD monitors countries to see if they are acting in line with the CRPD’s articles or not. The last time the committee looked at the UK was in 2016 – and the report was damning. Then, in August 2017, the UNCRPD followed up on its report; this included its chair accusing the government of creating a “human catastrophe” for disabled people. Yet in 2018 the government effectively whitewashed the UNCRPD report.

Now, the committee is investigating the UK again.

As part of this process, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) have come together to collate evidence. What they’ve found is damning. You can read the Canary‘s full analysis of the report here, but as one of its conclusions summed up:

There has been continued regression since the last public examination of the UK under the CRDP

A Tory no-show amid damning evidence

With that in mind, the UNCRPD summoned the Tory government to Geneva for 28 August 2023. However, ministers have backed out of the meeting – but it went ahead without the UK government, anyway. Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), charities, and campaign groups did attend. The evidence they gave was damning.

The Canary previously reported on the more-than-28,000-word report a coalition of DPOs submitted to the UNCRPD. Evidence within it included that:

  • “In 2018 there were 365,000 DDP living in unsuitable properties”.
  • By January 2020, the DWP had removed 102,000 Motability customers’ Personal Independence Payment (PIP) awards that “entitled them to vehicles”.
  • 62% of “working-age people referred to food banks in early 2020 were Disabled”.
  • From mid March to July 2020, 59% of Covid deaths were that of disabled people.
  • 7.2 million households with a disabled person are living in poverty. This accounts for just over 10% of the UK’s population, but half of all UK poverty.

So, the UNCRPD heard this evidence without the government present. However, it will now be in front of the committee.

The government: evading UNCRPD accountability

As charity Disability Rights UK wrote:

On March 18th, the UK Government will finally face up to the United Nations (UN), giving evidence on their violations of Disabled people’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities…

The UN Committee reconvenes in March, to hear what action the UK Government has taken since 2017, to correct their record of human rights violations…

Three key UN Convention Articles are being reviewed, Article19 (independent living), article 27 (work and employment) and article 28 (adequate standard of living and social protection). The breaches were caused directly by Government policies and services between 2010 and 2015.

It noted that:

The reason this upcoming hearing at the UN is so significant is because it’s the first time the UK Government will be scrutinised on the world stage in over 6 years. Following on from their absence in August 2023 and request for a postponement until now, they can no longer evade accountability. We must make sure as many people as possible are aware of the ongoing UN investigation and outcomes, so that the government feels the full force of pressure from the grassroots combined with international and legislative enforcement.

In denial

It is highly likely – in fact, almost a certainty – that the Tory government will try to downplay the previous UN report, and whitewash its appalling record on the rights of chronically ill and disabled people. Moreover, the UK’s opposition Labour Party – likely to be elected to government this year – is following a similar path to the incumbents; pledging to clamp-down on people reliant on social security.

Plus, the UNCRPD’s hands are effectively tied. There is no legal recourse for it to take action again the UK government over the violations.

So, it will be down to activists, campaigners, and the public to hold those in power to account – as it has been for decades. The Canary will continue to report on the situation with the UNCRPD.

Featured image via Rishi Sunak – YouTube

Source link