Inclusion Scotland press release: Scottish disabled people call for human rights to be met
In advance of a United Nations Committee’s examination of the UK Government’s record on meeting disabled people’s human rights, a new report maps the many ways in which those rights have not been met. Compiled from the views of disabled people themselves, the report reveals the devastating impact of the UK Government’s austerity agenda and demonstrates the need for Scottish Government to take urgent action to implement its human rights pledges.
A partnership led by Inclusion Scotland worked with colleagues in England and Wales to review how well disabled people’s rights are being met across Great Britain. Together they concluded that there is little evidence that the UK government is consistently taking account of the rights in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The hope is that the UN Committee will make use of these reports to hold the UK Government to account, when it examines their performance later this year. However, a recent exchange between the Committee and the UK Government suggests there is no guarantee the UK Government will act on the Committee’s advice.
The UK Government signed up to the UNCRPD in 2009 and has already been accused by the Committee of violating the Convention. Following an inquiry into the impact of welfare reforms on disabled people’s rights, a damning report published in October last year by the UN committee found that reforms had led to ‘grave and systemic violations’ of disabled people’s rights. The UK Government responded by dismissing the findings and refusing to implement the committee’s recommendations.
In their report on the status of disabled people’s human rights in Scotland, Inclusion Scotland and its partners in Scotland urge the Scottish Government to:
- Protect disabled people from the impact of austerity in social security and social care.
- Bring Scotland’s mental health legislation in line with the Convention, particularly in relation to people with learning disabilities.
- Transform public attitudes towards disability and reduce hate crime.
Following the publication last December of the Scottish Government’s delivery plan for disabled people’s rights in Scotland, this report makes clear that there is no time to spare in putting that plan into action.
Dr Sally Witcher, Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Scotland, said:
“Our report today shows that Scottish disabled people still have inaccessible homes, work environments and transport; that we continue to wait months to receive important information in accessible formats; and that hate crime continues to be an everyday experience for many disabled people living in Scotland. –
For too long disabled people have been singled out for cuts. Of the £23 billion in social security cuts under the UK government, over half have fallen on disabled people and their families. UK Government austerity measures have undermined our human rights in the most devastating ways. No longer can we take even the most basic of support for granted.
However, in contrast to the UK Government’s apparent dismissal of disabled people’s human rights, the Scottish Government’s recently published delivery plan provides some cause for hope. The challenge now is to deliver on those commitments. Our report today underlines how urgent this is, if disabled people are to have the freedoms and rights that others take for granted and Scottish Government’s ambitions for a fairer Scotland are to be achieved.”
Rhona Neil from People First (one of Inclusion Scotland’s partners on the report), said:
“In Scotland, there has been a significant rise in the number of Guardianship Order applications and in the numbers of people with learning disabilities who have their rights to make decisions removed from them.
People First (Scotland) has prioritised its’ involvement in the work on this shadow report as there is a particularly close fit with the work of the People First Law and Human Rights Group which often considers and makes reference to the UNCRPD. We have a strong and established partnership with Inclusion Scotland and have been able to work jointly throughout the process.”
Notes to editors:
1) Inclusion Scotland works to ensure that policy affecting the everyday lives of disabled people in Scotland is informed by and reflects their views. We work for the removal of barriers to the inclusion of disabled people into all aspects of Scottish civic, social and economic life. To those ends we carry out policy work and information, engagement and capacity-building activities at national and local level across Scotland.
2) The human rights performance of the UK Government and devolved administrations will be reviewed by the UNCRPD committee this March. The review will establish a list of issues, on which the governments will be asked to report. Following these reports, the Committee will issue recommendations to the UK government and its devolved administrations. Recommendations are expected in August 2017. Representatives from Inclusion Scotland and People First Scotland will travel to the United Nations in Geneva this March to ensure the concerns of disabled people in Scotland are reflected in the list of issues.
Three ‘Shadow’ reports have been developed. The report covering Great Britain was produced by Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and Disability Rights UK with support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. It combines two separate reports – one from Scotland, and one from England and Wales. The reports can be accessed on the Inclusion Scotland website here: http://inclusionscotland.org/disabled-people-hold-uk-government-to-account-over-human-rights/
3) The report covering Scotland was produced by Inclusion Scotland, in partnership with: People First Scotland; the British Deaf Association; the Scottish Council on Deafness; Glasgow Disability Alliance; the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living; the Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living; Self-Directed Support Scotland; Voices of Experience and Professor Nicholas Watson, University of Glasgow.
4) The Scottish Government’s ‘A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People UNCRPD Delivery Plan’ can be found online here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00510948.pdf
5) In regards to mental health legislation, the report challenges the inclusion of learning disabilities in the definition of ‘mental disorder’. It also criticises the high incidence of ‘substitute decision making’ in Scotland, which denies people with learning disabilities the option of making their own decisions.
6) For further information, please contact Dr Rosalind Tyler-Greig at Inclusion Scotland: [email protected] or telephone 0131 281 0859.