UN slams UK’s treatment of disabled people as ‘human catastrophe’
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities raises concerns over treatment of people with disabilities in UK
Published on 1st September 2017
BASW is urging the government to address its failings and respect the rights of disabled people after the UN described the UK’s treatment of disabled people as a “human catastrophe”.
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities raised concerns about the insufficient incorporation and uneven implementation of the UN Convention across all policy areas and levels within all regions and the lack of consistency in the understanding of, adapting to and applying the human rights model of disability and its evolving concept of disability.
In addition, the committee raised concerns over the absence of a comprehensive and cross-cutting review of the State party’s legislation and policies in order to practice with the Convention. Existing laws, regulations, and practises discriminate against persons with disabilities, the committee added.
Also of concern was the lack of information on policies, programmes and measures to protect people with disabilities from being negatively affected, upon triggering article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
“The Committee is concerned that legislation fails to recognise living independently and being included in the community as a human right which enshrines individual autonomy, control and choice, as intrinsic aspects of the right to independent living,” said the report.
Austerity measures implemented by the government have led to severe negative economic constraints among people with disabilities and their families, in particular among families with children with disabilities, including increased reliance on food banks, said the report adds. Austerity measures have also have hindered the advancement of accessibility for people with disabilities, it adds.
The committee recommends that the government:
- Incorporates the Convention into its legislation,
- Strengthens its efforts to extend the Convention and support its implementation in the Overseas Territories,
- Adopts legally binding instruments to implement the concept of disability, in line with article 1 of the Convention, and ensure that new and existing legislation incorporate the human rights model of disability across all policy areas,
- Undertakes a comprehensive crosscutting review of its legislation and policies to bring them into line with article 1 of the Convention, and ensure that the legal framework protects people wth disabilities
- Expedites the process to develop a measurable strategic framework and plan of action, with sufficient financial resources aimed at abolishing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against people with disabilities and to ensure the equal protection of persons with disabilities, and
- Prevent any negative consequences for people with disabilities by the decision of the triggering article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
Theresia Degener, the chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, concluded that the UK has failed to implement change and condemned the government for “misusing statistics” to act as a “smoke screen”.
BASW CEO Ruth Allen said: “Once more the UN have again spoken out against UK policies systematically causing harm to disabled people. Social workers work alongside disabled people to protect their rights every day, and it is our perpetual responsibility to protect people's human rights and dignity in daily practice.
“We must also speak out collectively, as a professional body, against austerity-driven policies which are seeing the UK go into reverse on the rights and wellbeing of disabled citizens. We will use our access to the UN via the International Federation of Social Workers to add our voice against the undermining of disabled peoples' access to full citizenship,” Allen concluded.
The report is available here.
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