Disabled people have been urged to come forward with examples of how their human rights have been abused, to provide evidence for a crucial new report to be submitted to the United Nations.
Their stories will be used as evidence of how the coalition government is complying with its duties under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The call for evidence was issued at the launch of Disability Rights Watch UK, a project led by the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC), with support from Disability LIB and Scope.
Nine disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have begun to contribute stories from their disabled members, but the project now wants to hear from other disabled people, DPOs and disability charities about their experiences since the convention was ratified by the UK government in June 2009.
Examples already submitted by members of Disability Equality (nw) – one of the nine DPOs – include disabled people who have faced discrimination at work, a young disabled person unable to attend their chosen school because their council will not pay the transport costs, a woman with a mobility impairment who was forced to walk off an airplane, and a series of disability hate crimes.
A report based on these experiences and other evidence collected through the new project will be sent to the UN, alongside other reports to be submitted by the government’s Office for Disability Issues (ODI) – due this summer – the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
Julie Newman, acting chair of UKDPC, said the convention set out a “critically important” framework that provided a “unique opportunity” to “argue for full social inclusion and full human rights”.
She said the convention provided a “moral code of behaviour” that could be used to hold the government to account over its decisions, policies and legislation.
And she said the convention made it clear that disabled people and their organisations should be closely involved in its implementation and monitoring.
Tim Cooper, director of the ODI, said: “Clearly we have made a lot of progress in the last 20 to 25 years but we accept that there is still more progress to be made and the convention is a really important driver in helping us make that change.”
He said the convention’s “true measure of success” would be whether it improves the “day-to-day lives of disabled people”.
Afterwards, he told Disability News Service: “We have worked quite hard with the commissions (EHRC and SHRC) and with UKDPC so that all three organisations are working in parallel to each other.
“If there are not differences of opinion [between us], that is a bit of a missed opportunity. It is by debating where we do not agree that we make progress.”
To contribute to the report, visit: www.disabilityrightswatchuk.org
25 January 2011