I reported yesterday that the United Nations (UN) is investigating the UK government’s welfare “reforms” and the consequences of them for evidence of abuses of the human rights of sick and disabled people. The Daily Mail has preempted the visit from the special rapporteur, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, who is expected to visit the UK in the coming months to spearhead the ongoing inquiry into many claims that Britain is guilty of grave or systematic violations of the rights of sick and disabled people, by using racist stereotypes, and claiming that the UN are “meddling”. The Mail has blatantly attempted to discredit this important UN intervention and the UN rapporteur before the visit even takes place.
“Meddling” is a curious and interesting word to use, as oppose to “wrong” or, say, “inaccurate”. It implies that the government are already aware that their policies are in breach of the human rights of sick and disabled people, but that they simply don’t welcome independent and international scrutiny of the fact.
There was not a shred of concern expressed in the Mail article regarding the cruel treatment of sick and disabled people by the government. It wasn’t mentioned once that whilst sick and disabled people have been targeted by the government with cuts to their income that are disproportionately large, the millionaires of this country got a handout of £107,000 each per year, in the form of a tax “break”. That choice of policy was made intentionally and purposefully, designed to target the most vulnerable citizens – already amongst the poorest – for further cuts to their lifeline benefits. In 2012:
- Disabled people (1 in 13 of us) bore 29% of all the cuts
- People with severe disabilities (1 in 50 of us) bore 15% of all the cuts.
Further cuts to benefits since 2012 will make these proportions even larger now.
Thanks to the Centre for Welfare Reform for this info graphic.
The specialised rapporteur, sent by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will report back on a range of issues, including whether welfare cuts have harmed disabled people. This is because we are a voluntary signatory to the Convention on the rights of disabled person, and as such, we are expected to meet the international standards and the legal obligations in terms of the human rights of disabled people.
Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger last night described the inquiry as “the most absurd and offensive nonsense”.
As a sick and disabled person, I can confirm that Ian Liddell-Grainger is the one who is talking absurd and offensive nonsense. He added: “I am not an expert on disability rights in Costa Rica [the rapporteur’s country of origin], but I suspect Miss Devandas Aguilar might be better off focusing her efforts much closer to home. The UN should keep their noses out.”
Clearly Mr Liddell-Grainger doesn’t know anything at all about disbility rights or international laws. I’m sure his comments are uttered by every despotic minister that has ever faced an inquiry into their conduct towards others: “the UN should keep their noses out” echoes bullies and tyrants everywhere.
Not very encouraging comment, in terms of government response, openness, accountability, transparency and democracy, then, bearing in mind that a UN inquiry is only ordered where the UN committee believes there is evidence of grave or systematic violations of the rights of disabled people. We are a very wealthy, so-called first-world liberal democracy, the fact that such an inquiry has been deemed necessary at all ought to be a source of great shame for this government.
Looking at some of the comments on the Daily Mail site, I can’t help wondering if some members of the wider public would still look the other way if the government rounded up the sick and disabled people of this country and shot them in front of TV cameras. The thing is, starvation through cutting off lifeline benefits, sanctions, stress through inhumane policies, invalidating someone’s experience of being seriously ill by constant re-assessment and telling them to work when they cannot, and shooting, they all result in death.
And dead is dead.
Eugenics by stealth is still eugenics.
Bystander apathy is complicity.
And not forgetting the fascistic Daily Mail’s involvement in attempting to discredit the left by publishing the fake Zinoviev letter – From Spycatcher and GBH to the Zinoviev letter – an emergent pattern and the real enemy within
Anyone wishing to make a submission regarding the inquiry may contact the UN here:
Catalina Devandas Aguilar
Special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
Address: OHCHR-UNOG; CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland