Scottish disability rights organisations join in criticism of Tory cuts at the UN

25/08/2017
SeanBell

Scottish disability rights organisations joined with others from across the UK to criticise the UK Government’s human rights record before the United Nations

DEAF AND DISABLED PEOPLE’S ORGANISATIONS (DDPOs) from Scotland and across the UK have contributed to a joint submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in Geneva, condemning the UK Government’s record on disability and human rights.

At present, the committee is assessing the UK’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, officially ratified by the UK government in 2009.

The DDPOs, appearing in Geneva on 21 August, have reportedly told the committee that many of the UK Government’s policies, particularly those relating to the Conservative austerity agenda, place the Government in breach of the UN convention.

The issues highlighted before the UN included the negative impact of Tory welfare reforms, a lack of disabled-accessible housing, the increasing numbers of disabled children in segregated education, UK Government plans to cap funding for employment support for disabled people, and the increasing use of compulsory detention and forced treatment powers granted under UK mental health legislation, which the DDPOs argue are incompatible with the UN convention.

“We remain deeply concerned about the erosion of Scottish disabled people’s human rights caused by the UK Government-led cuts to benefits and services.” Sally Witcher, Inclusion Scotland

Ahead of the UN committee appearance, Sally Witcher, CEO at Inclusion Scotland, was quoted in Welfare Weekly saying: “We remain deeply concerned about the erosion of Scottish disabled people’s human rights caused by the UK Government-led cuts to benefits and services. We are pleased to join our colleagues from across the UK to challenge this.

“The Scottish Government’s approach is more positive, with commitments to new devolved disability benefits founded on dignity and respect, and to reducing the employment gap, as well as support for disabled people’s participation in politics and policymaking.

“However, we now need to see more action to realise disabled people’s human rights – particularly in relation to the real failings of our social care support system.”

Last year, the UK Government was accused by the UNCRPD of “grave and systemic violations” of the rights of disabled people. The then work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, responded by calling the accusation “patronising and offensive”.

Ahead of the appearance of representatives from the UK Government and the UK’s devolved legislatures before the committee yesterday and today, the UK’s equalities bodies – consisting of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR), the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission – also warned of an erosion of disabled people’s rights.

“There is a real concern that disabled people are being increasingly marginalised and shut out of society as they bear the brunt of the accumulated impact of cuts in public spending.” David Isaac, Equality and Human Rights Commission

EHCR chair David Isaac, speaking on behalf of the equalities bodies, said: “There is a real concern that disabled people are being increasingly marginalised and shut out of society as they bear the brunt of the accumulated impact of cuts in public spending.

“Disabled people have won hard-fought battles in recent decades to ensure that they can live independently to exercise choice and control over their support. Evidence of regression must be confronted and urgently addressed.

“As the UK and devolved governments’ track record on disability rights comes under the international microscope, we call for 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 governments must start taking the human rights of disabled people more seriously.”

Picture courtesy of shanjitbakshi

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