UN condemnation for UK human rights record

Date: 4th September 2017
Category: General principles, Disabled children

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK.

The condemnation follows the first Review of the UK Government's compliance with the UNCRPD.

The Observations conclude the public examination of the UK Government's record on delivering disabled people's rights which took place on the 23rd and 24th of August. The examination was declared by the UK rapporteur Mr Stig Langvad, to be "the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee".

Mr Langvad raised deep concerns on the UK Government's failure to implement the rights of disabled people. He also noted the government's "lack of recognition of the findings and recommendations of the (2016) Inquiry" which found 'grave and systematic violations of disabled people's human rights'.

Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) were hailed as the genuine "world leaders" for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.

The UK Delegation of Disabled People's Organisations has issued the following joint statement:

"Today the UN(CRPD) Committee has, once again, condemned the UK Government's record on Disabled People's human rights. They have validated the desperation, frustration and outrage experienced by Disabled people since austerity and welfare cuts began. It is no longer acceptable for the UK Government to ignore the strong and united message of the disability community.

UK Government representatives committed during the review to rethinking the way they support Disabled people to monitor our rights. We welcome this commitment. However, we are clear that our involvement must be genuine and inclusive and that we cannot accept anything less than progress on delivering the human rights enshrined in the Convention, and denied us for too long.

DPOs have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with following a long campaign of challenging the Government's blatant disregard for the lives of Disabled people in the UK. The unity and solidarity demonstrated by the Committee and the UK Independent Mechanism in supporting our calls for justice continue to strengthen us."

Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said:

"The committee's final observations and comments represent a grim reality check for the UK government and its record on ensuring the human rights of disabled people.

"After nearly a week considering the UK's record, the committee paints a worrying picture of the battles Disabled people face every day as they seek to lead independent lives.

We were proud to give evidence to the committee alongside other Disabled people's organisations. The UK government should now cut the rhetoric and start delivering on these excellent recommendations."

DR UK is particularly pleased that while the committee has reminded the government of the on-going crisis triggered by its welfare reforms, it has also highlighted serious concerns on issues such as the use of mental health legislation to deny people control over their treatment and their liberty.

Mr Mallick said: "The seemingly endless rise in the numbers of people with mental health problems being detained or forcibly treated in the community is a daily reminder that human rights violations take place in the UK. Those powers continue to be disproportionately used against black people and people from ethnic minorities which only underlines the need for urgent action."

Mr Mallick also urged the devolved administrations, public service providers and the private sector to study the investigation's findings so they disabled people can access education, employment, transport and housing.


Disabled people increasingly shut out of society, says new human rights report

Ahead of the UN examination into the UK's record on the rights of disabled people, research found that disabled people are increasingly unable to live independently, as well as being "marginalised" from society.

UKIM made up of the four UK Human Rights bodies, commissioned this new report which also says that "disabled people are losing support to enable them to take part in community life, go out to work and see friends and family.

"Many disabled people who need support to live independently in the community are not getting it, or are only getting the bare minimum."

Other areas for concern include:

  • the overall impact of seven years of cuts to social security payments
  • gaps in legal protection and barriers to accessing justice
  • the continued use of physical and chemical restraint
  • bullying of disabled children in schools
  • the need for further action to tackle disability hate crime and harassment

Speaking on behalf of UKIM, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission David Isaac said:

"There is a real concern that disabled people are being increasingly marginalised and shut out of society as they bear the brunt of a series of decisions on public spending.

"Disabled people won hard fought battles in recent decades to ensure that they could live independently with choice and control over their support. Evidence of regression must be confronted and urgently addressed.

"As the UK government's track record on disability rights comes under the international microscope, we want to see concerted action to remove the barriers in society that prevent disabled people living full lives on equal terms with non-disabled people.

"Everyone is entitled to the same opportunities and respect - the government must start taking its human rights obligations more seriously."