Delayed UN examination of UK government ‘will take place next year’


Disabled people’s organisations and grassroots groups are set to call on disabled people across England to provide the evidence they need to prepare a “hard-hitting” report on the government’s failure to implement the UN disability convention.

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) has announced that it will put together a “shadow report” to submit to the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD).

It emerged this week that the committee is set to hold its delayed public examination of the UK government’s progress on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) next year, the first time the UK has been examined since the Labour government ratified the convention in 2009.

The examination has been delayed partly by a separate, continuing inquiry by the committee into allegations of “systematic and grave” violations of disabled people’s human rights by the UK government, an inquiry triggered by Disabled People Against Cuts, one of ROFA’s members.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said this week that it understands that a pre-sessional working group – in which CRPD meets to decide on the list of subjects that will be discussed at a country’s public examination – would discuss the UK’s case next spring.

In this week’s response to a report by peers on how the Equality Act has affected disabled people, the commission also refers to “next year’s examination of the UK” under the UNCRPD.

EHRC is working with the other members of what is known as the UK’s “independent mechanism” on the convention – the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission – to produce their own shadow report.

It is also spending £100,000 to fund Disability Rights UK and Disability Wales to write a shadow report covering England and Wales, and to fund Inclusion Scotland and other Scottish disabled people’s organisations to produce a shadow report for Scotland.

Non-governmental organisations are invited to submit shadow reports – alternatives to a government’s own report on its convention progress – to CRPD for consideration before it carries out a public examination of a country’s record.

ROFA’s members wrote their own shadow report 18 months ago, but because of the delay caused by the inquiry into the UK’s alleged violations of the convention, now needs to prepare an updated version.

ROFA is hoping that its report will draw on evidence from an informal network of about 40,000 disabled people who are linked to its member organisations – which include Equal Lives, Disabled People Against Cuts, Inclusion London and Sisters of Frida – and is likely to put out a call for evidence later this summer.

Tara Flood, chief executive of The Alliance for Inclusive Education, another ROFA member, said the shadow report would be “incredibly important” and would need to be “very hard-hitting” because the committee’s examination would “set the benchmark” for CRPD’s future scrutiny of the UK government.

She said: “What we are planning to produce will be equally robust as the one we drafted 18 months ago.

“What it will be clear about is the evidence of the disproportionate impact [of the government’s policies] on disabled people of all ages.”

Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said the alliance’s “grassroots” shadow report would be important because it would “solely reflect the views and experiences of disabled people and Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) on the ground and minimise the risks of diluting these experiences and views because our report will not need to be agreed with other organisations and non-DDPOs who may have different agendas”.

She said the report would “build on the extensive data we collected in autumn 2014 and use the same extensive network of disabled people and DDPOs”.

A UN spokeswoman said: “There is as yet no information regarding when the committee will conduct its delayed review of the UK.”

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