UK Violations of International Disability Treaty Slammed by DDPOs

Tue,29 August 2023
News Equality & Rights
On Monday 28 August Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) from across the UK descended on the UN building in Geneva to give evidence on the state of Disabled people's human rights in the UK.

The UN agreed a set of rules to protect Disabled people's rights in 2006,  known  as the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People CRDP. The UK Government signed up to this Convention in 2009. The UN undertakes regular reviews of Government implementation, however, in 2016 Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) made a specific complaint regarding the UK Government’s failure to implement the Convention.  In response to the complaint, the UN found "grave and systemic violations" of the rights of Disabled people in the UK.

The session in Geneva on 28 August,reviewed UK progress with regard to the 2016 special inquiry report. Attendees at the session included Disability Rights UK  CEO Kamran Mallick, as well as representatives from Deaf and Disabled people's organisations (DDPOs) such as Inclusion London, Disability Wales, DPAC, and Disability Action Northern Ireland.

The evidence presented included serious concerns that “There is still discrimination in the discussion around disability benefits” that “Sixty percent of food bank users were Disabled people” and that “Grave and systemic human rights violations towards Disabled people from the UN report of 2016 still exist today.”

The response to Covid was also highlighted with Rensa Gaunt from Inclusion London telling the UN about the disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 on Disabled people. Nearly six out of every 10 people who died with coronavirus in England were disabled. Also raised was the failure of the UK Government to have any BSL interpreters at essential public briefings, a practice which was later found to be unlawful by the High Court.

Noting the lack of Disabled representation in the UK parliament, Disability Rights UK told the UN committee that “If the number of Disabled MPs was proportionate to the general population, we should have 136 MPs identifying as Disabled people. In 2021/22 there were only five.”

Other passionate voices spoke of people with learning disabilities still being placed in mental health units, and the urgent need for disability hate crime to be recognised by the criminal law. DPAC told the committee at the end of the session that “The evidence submitted to the UNCRDP from DPOs has been absolutely damning.”

No UK Government representative attended. The UN committee was told by Government that it did not want to be scrutinised in public at the meeting.

Kamran Mallick said: “We came to tell the UNCRDP Committee about the injustice and inequality that Disabled people experience every day. Our experience in all areas of everyday life has regressed since the committee's report in 2016. From lack of well supported inclusive education to the barriers to employment, the health inequalities and a social care system that is on its knees and in no way promotes independent living.

We spoke with a unified voice, in solidarity with each other.

The Westminster Government didn’t attend. They said to the committee they were not ready and wanted to postpone this hearing to March 2024.

This shows the contempt the government has for 21% of our country.”

The full session is available to watch online.