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A human catastrophe – New UN condemnation for UK human rights record

31 August 2017

The UK Government’s claim to be a ‘world leader in disability issues’ has today been crushed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Committee has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK, following its first Review of the government’s compliance with the Convention. 

The Observations conclude last week’s public examination of the UK Government’s record on delivering disabled people’s rights. 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. 

Disability Rights UK urges action following damning words by UN Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities

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. (See notes to editors for statistics)

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.

Notes to editors:

The OHCHR Press Conference (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) announcing the concluding observations takes place from 11:30 – 13:15 GMT on Thursday 31 August.

DR UK and other Disabled people’s organisations sent a written submission and gave verbal evidence to the committee on 21 August.