Monday, August 31, 2015

DPAC triggers UN inquiry into grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights

The UN Inquiry and UN visit to UK to examine the grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was initiated by DPAC.

This inquiry is the first of its kind-it has great historic importance. It means the UN will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.

In May 2013, after 3 years of onslaught against disabled people by the Condem government, DPAC made a formal submission under the CRPD Optional Protocol which establishes an individual complaints mechanism for the Convention.

There was less information and statistics than now on the impact of the Welfare Reform and loss of a right to independent living on disabled people. However the evidence DPAC presented to the CRPD Committee was extremely strong

DPAC’s evidence presented the regression of disabled people’s convention rights and the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD. It was accepted by the UNCRPD Committee.

After an initial response from the government responding point by point to the DPAC submission, DPAC made a second submission, supported by further evidence of the disproportionate impact of all cuts on disabled people.

This submission, as the first one, included,
  • the failings of the Work Capability Assessment,
  • the bedroom tax,
  • the closure of the Independent Living Fund
  • the unwillingness of the government to make an assessment of the cumulative impact of the Welfare Reform on disabled people
  • its reluctance to monitor what was happening to disabled people who were found fit for work after an assessment and who lost their only means of support (see complete list)i,.
This submission was partly based on firmly sourced statistical and other factual evidence, and also on the hundreds of personal testimonies that DPAC has received from individuals who have been affected adversely by the governments’ welfare reforms.

The UK government sent a second response to the UN about DPAC’s submission but by then the CRPD Committee had decided that there was enough evidence to open an inquiry into the violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government.

The Committee also told DPAC that the inquiry was totally confidential and could be jeopardised and called off if any news of an UN inquiry was leaked.

It was the indiscretion of an ex-member of the CRPD Committee which brought the inquiry into the open, but DPAC kept its side of the non-disclosure agreement. The further leak in newspapers on Sunday 30th August convinced us that disabled people needed to know the full extent of the process

This inquiry is an unprecedented move and unchartered territory for the UNCRPD Committee.

It is also another route of hope for disabled people who have been abused by the UK government, ignored by most of the opposition and betrayed by the big Disability Charities.