UK Government refuses to attend UN meeting scrutinising its rights violations of Disabled people under UNCRPD

Mon,28 August 2023
News Equality & Rights
The UK Government is refusing to attend a meeting at the UN to review its treatment of Disabled people under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It has told the UN Committee that monitors implementation of the UNCRPD that it does not want to undergo public scrutiny on its progress at the meeting.

In November 2016, the Committee of Disabled human rights experts released a damning report, which found that the UK government had systemically discriminated against Disabled people in terms of rights to living standards, social protection, work and employment, and independent living as part of the first ever high-level inquiry carried out by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD).

The report followed years of research and campaigning by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Disabled people have told the Commission that the cost of living crisis has led to people choosing not just between heating and eating, but breathing and eating, as they lack the funds to run essential medical equipment.

The Committee earmarked August to examine the Government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2016 report, but the Government is refusing to attend, instead saying that it will now give evidence in March 2024. The meeting will instead only be attended by Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations and human rights and equality bodies.

A shadow report for the UN by a group of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations in 2022 found that there had been a deterioration in the treatment of Disabled people on nearly every point raised in the 2016 report. Rather than seeing an improvement, during and after the pandemic, almost every aspect of our rights, income, living standards and support had got worse.

Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK, which was on the shadow report’s steering group, said at the time: “The findings of this report highlight just how important it is that the independent Covid inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic fully investigates the impact on Deaf and Disabled people.

“We need to know how our needs were factored into key political decisions, including when and how to lockdown, what monitoring went on into the impacts of those decisions and what if any emergency planning was in place pre-pandemic.

“Lessons can only be learned for the future through an inquiry that is based on an accurate understanding of who Deaf and Disabled people are and what our needs are.”

Speaking now, he said: “Time and again the Government is refusing to engage with Deaf and Disabled people in a meaningful way. It has launched a Disability Action Plan, but is still not listening to the acute needs of Disabled people.

“If Disabled people are able to attend this important meeting, despite all the barriers that go with our ability to cross Europe to attend, why can the Government not attend?

“The refusal to attend this important meeting feels like yet another kick in the teeth when we’ve had a mouthful of painful broken molars since the UN’s damning report in 2016.”