UN investigates UK disability rights violations

The UN has launched an investigation into potential human rights violations on disabled people caused by the welfare cuts in the UK.

The report, to be published in 2017, will be examining whether the welfare cuts made by the UK government has breached the European convention on human rights by adversely affecting the lives of disabled people.

The inquiry is being led by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Britain will be the first time a country has been investigated by the CRPD over human rights violations.

The investigation, which began on 14 October, will be gathering evidence through interviews with disability service users as well as lawyers and campaigners.

The interviews themselves will be conducted in private and those interviewed have agreed not to disclose the information they provide to any other person or say who else was interviewed.

The investigation was put on the agenda after a campaign by a group called the Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac). Dpac, in 2012, submitted information to the UN that showed the negative impact UK government policies had on disabled people, including: the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and “fit for work” assessments.

Co-founder of Dpac, Linda Burnip, told the Guardian newspaper: “As this is the first time any country has been investigated by the UN using the option protocol in the UN CRPD, it is a historic and momentous event that would make most politians recoil in shame. Whether or not it will have this effect on the Tories we will have to wait and see.”

However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has responded saying: “We strongly reject the allegations made by Dpac. The UK has a proud record of furthering the rights of disabled people, with the principles of the UN convention at the heart of our approach.

“We are committed to supporting disabled people in society and spend around £50bn every year on disable people and their services. We are happy to inform the inquiry of this.”

The UN will submit its findings to the UK government, which will have six months to respond. the UN will the consult with Dpac again before finalising its report, to be published in 2017.

While the government has to accept the report it cannot be compelled to act on its findings.

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