uncrpd update march 2012

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					The Commission’s work on UNCRPD -
Update March 2012
The United Nations Convention for the Rights of Disabled People
(UNCRPD) is an international human rights agreement to protect and
promote the human rights of disabled people throughout the world. The
Convention is about the rights of all disabled people. That can be a
person who has an impairment, illness, or a health or mental health
condition, and who may face barriers to being included in society. It
includes people with mental health conditions, people with learning
disabilities, deaf people, blind and partially sighted people, people with
physical impairments, people with autism, people with epilepsy and
people who are HIV positive.
The UK government ratified the Convention in June 2009. This means
that the UK government (including the devolved governments) must take
concrete action to comply with the legal rights and obligations contained
in the Convention.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (Commission) together
with the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Northern
Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHR) and the Equality Commission
for Northern Ireland (ECNI) are the four designated independent bodies
to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention in
the UK. Collectively, the Commissions are the UK Independent
Mechanism (UKIM) for the Convention.
Disabled people have campaigned for over 20 years to get their own
human rights convention and were instrumental in agreeing its contents.
Therefore, a key principle of the Convention is the continued
involvement and participation of disabled people and their organisations
in promoting, protecting and monitoring the implementation of the
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is carrying out a range of
activities across Britain to fulfil its role as one of the independent
mechanisms. This briefing is the second in a series to pass on
information about the Convention, tell you about our Convention work
and encourage participation and involvement.

UK government submits first report to UNCRPD Committee
The government submitted its first report on implementation of the
UNCRPD to the United Nations on 24 November 2011. You can read a
copy of the report on the Office for Disability Issues website.

Office for Disability Issues (ODI): Public consultation on a
new disability strategy
Last December, the government announced a public consultation on a
'new cross-government disability strategy' to be finalised later this year.
The government says that the new disability strategy will build on its
Independent Living Strategy, its Roadmap 2025 and its report to the UN
on implementation of the UNCRPD.

The Office for Disability (ODI) Issues has produced a discussion
document, Fulfilling Potential, to gather disabled people's views on
what the new strategy should include. The deadline for responses is 9
March 2012. The consultation details, including how to respond, are
available at: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/odi-projects/fulfilling-potential.php

The UKIM has already told the government that we would like to see a
national action plan for implementation of the Convention, into which
strategies or plans for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
would be clearly linked. The UK action plan should be explicitly rights
based, action oriented and developed with the full participation of
disabled people. Our view is that the success of a national disability
strategy and action plan as an effective tool to implement the
Convention will also depend on the inclusion of:
    specific, measurable, relevant and time-bound objectives;
    clear and measurable indicators to measure progress and
     outcomes against these objectives; and
    practical measures to give effect to the ODI's role as the UK
     government's co-ordinating mechanism for UNCRPD

UN Disability Committee reporting timescales
The UN General Assembly recently agreed to increase resourcing for
the UNCRPD Committee to enable it to meet for an extra week each
year to help it work through the backlog of country examinations. The
Committee had been meeting twice a year - usually in April and October
- for one week. Meetings are likely to continue twice yearly but the
overall meeting time will be increased from two to three weeks, so that
there will one 1 week and one 2 week meeting. The Commission will
monitor closely what impact the extra meeting time will have on the
timescale for the UK examination. But, for now, we still expect the UK
state examination to take place in 2013 or 2014.
The four UK Commissions (UKIM) will produce a ‘parallel report’ for the
UN Committee closer to the UK examination date and we will involve
and consult disabled people and disabled people's organisations in that
process. In the meantime, however, the Commission will continue to
work on a wide range of activities across Britain to promote, protect and
monitor the implementation of the Convention. Some of the activities we
have been involved in during the past four months include:

Protecting the implementation of the UNCRPD:
EHRC enforcement actions As well as monitoring the
government’s progress implementing the Convention and reporting on
that progress to the UN, the Commission has also mainstreamed the
UNCRPD into its work such as enforcing the law and influencing
government policy. The Commission has used its unique legal powers
to carry out two inquiries which have UNCRPD rights at their core.
EHRC inquiry into disability-related harassment
'Hidden in plain sight' is the final report of our inquiry into disability-
related harassment. The report uncovers that harassment is a
commonplace experience for disabled people, but a culture of disbelief
and systemic institutional failures are preventing it from being tackled
effectively. As well as reporting on the extent of harassment, the report
also includes case studies and makes recommendations to public
authorities to help them deal with the problems uncovered.

Read the final report.

EHRC inquiry into home care and human rights
At the end of November 2011, the EHRC published 'Close to Home', a
report of its findings following an extensive inquiry examining how well
the human rights of older people receiving home care were protected in
England. The starting point for the inquiry was to assess evidence from
older people, local authorities, regulators and the Government against
rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. We also
considered certain rights under the UNCRPD which are particularly
relevant to people using home care services.

For example,

    the right to equal access to facilities and services (Article 9)

    equal recognition before the law, including safeguards for people
     who lack legal capacity (Article 12)

    freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (Article 16)

    protection of the integrity of the person (Article 17)

    the right to live independently and be included in the community
     (Article 19)

    the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection
     (Article 28)
The inquiry findings showed that around half the older people surveyed
were happy with their home care. However, there were many examples
from others of alarmingly poor treatment much of which posed threats to,
if not actual breaches of, human rights. There were instances of
physical or financial abuse, privacy and dignity being disregarded,
failures to support older people with eating or drinking, treating them as
if they were invisible, and paying little attention to what they want.

Another finding was that the legal and regulatory framework does not
provide adequate safeguards to detect threats to human rights. The
inquiry recommendations include extending the Human Rights Act
definition of 'public function' to cover home care delivered by private and
voluntary sector agencies (which is 84% of publically funded home care)
at least when that care is publically arranged. This would bring home
care into line with residential care as regards human rights protection.
Find out more information about the inquiry and read the full report

On ratifying the UNCRPD, the UK government expressed four
reservations and one interpretative declaration. The effect of a
reservation is that a government is not bound by a particular article or
sub-section of an article of the Convention. An interpretative declaration
means that a government agrees to be bound by an article - or sub-
section of an article on the condition that it is interpreted in the particular
way which the government has set out in the declaration.
The Commission believes that the UK Government should withdraw all
of its reservations and its interpretative declaration,. Our Disability
Committee has made a public statement setting out in detail the
reasons for our position. The Commission continues to work to persuade
the relevant government departments to withdraw the reservations, and
there is some positive progress to report:

Withdrawal of article 12.4 reservation: appointee
We welcome the government's recent announcement that it is
withdrawing its reservation against Article 12.4 of the Convention.
The government had said it made the reservation because the existing
social security benefit appointee system lacked appropriate safeguards
in the arrangements to enable the appointment of a person to collect and
claim benefits on behalf of someone else. Following the piloting of a
system of review to address this issue, the Department for work and
Pensions (DWP) introduced the new system in October last year and it
is now being rolled out to cover all appointees. The Commission will
monitor how the new system works in practice, and in particular whether
the safeguards it puts in place are effective.
Read the full Ministerial statement.

UK Border Agency (Home Office) review of the immigration
The Commission submitted a response to the recent Home Office / UK
Borders Agency (UKBA) consultation on the immigration (article 18)
reservation to the Convention. We have been in contact with UKBA
about progress of the review and understand that UKBA is in the
process of carrying out an equality impact assessment before a
recommendation is made to the minister on whether to withdraw or
retain the reservation.
Further information about our response to the consultation

Education reservation and interpretative declaration
In our response to the recent Green Paper, Support and aspiration: A
new approach to special educational needs and disability the
Commission reiterated our strong support for article 24 of the UNCRPD
based on evidence that mainstream schooling with appropriate
resourcing and training of teachers is the way forward for improving
education and life outcomes for disabled children, and for tackling
prejudice to create a more tolerant and integrated society.
For this reason, we are opposed to the UK government’s reservation to
and interpretive declaration on Article 24. In addition to the educational
benefits of inclusion in mainstream settings, the Commission is of the
view that there are costs to society overall in segregating disabled young
people – and benefits in integration. Separation of disabled people from
mainstream education fuels prejudice, and evidence from the
Commission’s Disability Harassment Inquiry has pointed to young
people being the major perpetrators of disability-related harassment.
It is our understanding that the Government’s response to the Green
paper will be published in the early part of 2012, and it is also expected
that legislation will follow this. The Commission will be assessing this
response, in particular whether what is being proposed will further
equality for disabled people, and will be making representations to that
effect. We have the statutory power to advise central government about
the likely effect of a proposed change of law, and we will be advising the
government if we consider that new legislation could have a detrimental
effect on disabled children in light of the Equality Act 2010 and the
Human Rights Act 1998.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR)
inquiry into article 19 of UNCRPD, the right to independent
As previously reported, together with our UKIM partners, the
Commission submitted written and oral evidence earlier this year to the
Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) inquiry into the
implementation of the right of disabled people to independent living. As
part of that process, we were called to give oral evidence in parliament
on 14 June at which Mike Smith, Disability Committee Chair and
Commissioner, represented the Commission.

The JCHR subsequently wrote to the four commissions requesting
further written information to assist in their inquiry and we provided a
second detailed written submission. The submission re-iterated our call
for a national action plan for UNCRPD implementation as well as
addressing technical questions about the legal effect of the UNCRPD
on domestic law. Read the evidence:

 Commission’s written evidence
 Transcript of oral evidence
The JCHR is expected to publish its report at the end of February.

Scotland and Wales
As well as our work as part of UKIM, we are committed to ensuring our
work to promote, protect and monitor the Convention, covers all of
Britain. In Scotland, all Convention work is carried out jointly with the
Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC). Here are some of the
highlights from our recent work in Scotland and Wales.
Online seminar series: save the dates!
As part of the EHRC and SHRC joint promotion and monitoring role and
based on the evidence disabled people have provided to the
Commissions so far, we are holding a series of four free online seminars
that relate the Disability Convention to what you have told us are the key
issues facing disabled people in Scotland.

The series began with an exploration of disability equality and human
rights in the context of public spending cuts and welfare reform. Later
seminars covered issues such as access to justice, independent living
and children and young people.You can view a recording of the
broadcasts, download the slides and look at the text conversation during
the seminar at (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

Or view the broadcast only
The next seminar is on 12 March 2012, 12- 1pm: Children and Young

You will need an internet connection to take part. If you don’t have one,
please contact us and we will do our best to help find access to a shared

You can join the seminar by following the link on the website of the
Scottish Human Rights Commission which will open as a ‘pop up’ box
displaying a video frame: Seminar Series on Disability Convention

No prior registration or ‘log in’ details will be required to access the
seminar but you need to check that your computer has functioning video
and audio capability.

Although you don't need to register for the seminars, please let us know
if you plan to join in so that we can make sure that you're familiar with
the website we are using to broadcast the seminar, provide any
information you need in an accessible format, and keep you informed of
any changes to the programme. You can do this be emailing
hello@scottishhumanrights.com or telephoning 0131 240 2985.

EHRC Wales is continuing to follow up on the recommendations of the
UNCRPD round table. For example, we have already achieved notable
success in influencing the new Welsh Communities First programme,
(which starts April 2012) so that it includes significant disability equality
issues. We are continuing to follow up other commitments, which arose
from our round table event.
The Commission's inquiry into disability-related harassment and how
well this is currently being addressed by public bodies has already had a
positive impact in Wales; the National Assembly’s Communities, Equality
and Local Government Committee has published a report into disability-
related harassment that fully supports EHRC’s Hidden in Plain Sight
recommendations. In the report, the Committee calls on the Welsh
government to bring forward a disability-related harassment framework,
drawing together all existing work in Wales and setting a strategic
The Welsh government has established an Independent Living
framework to underpin the Welsh government's actions under the
Equality Act to advance disabled people's equality of opportunity,
eliminate discrimination and foster good relations. The aim of the
framework is to bring policies and strategies that support independent
living together into a 'coherent delivery plan'. Themed meetings with
disabled people's organisations are being arranged to help shape the
framework. The themes will include housing, technology, transport and
employment. Details of these meetings are available from Disability
Wales by phoning Cardiff (029) 2088 7325 or by emailing

Welsh Minister, Leighton Andrews, will lead for the Welsh government
on welfare changes and will also be part of a cross-government working
group established by the UK minster for Disabled People.

International news
UNCRPD Conference of State Parties and European
Commission (EC) Work Forum
The Commission recently attended the UN Conference of State Parties
and the European Commission Work Forum on the UNCRPD. At both
events, we presented on our role as a designated 'independent
mechanism' under article 33 of the Convention, in particular, sharing our
practical experiences in this role.

UNCRPD Working Group of the European Group of
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)
The Commission has an on-going role as chair of the UNCRPD Working
Group of the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions
(NHRIs). In October, we held the third meeting of the group where it
was agreed that the group would focus on practical activities to share
expertise, experiences and best practices as independent monitors for
the Convention.
In our role as chair of the UNCRPD working group, the Commission took
a lead role in drafting a submission on what arrangements the European
Union should put in place for an independent monitoring framework
under article 33 of the Convention. The European Union (EU) is the first
inter-governmental organisation to ratify a UN treaty. Given the direct
and indirect effect of EU law on the domestic law of individual member
states, the EU's ratification of the Convention is a significant
development. The aim of the working group's proposal is to try to
influence the European Commission (EC) to act promptly to propose an
appropriate and robust monitoring mechanism for UNCRPD at the
European level.
The Commission submitted the working group's proposals to the
European Commission's Disability Unit, and followed this up with
meetings with relevant EC officials at the Work Forum. EC officials had
told us that an announcement would be made in December 2011 on
what arrangements the EU proposes to put in place for an independent
monitoring mechanism But so far, there have been no further


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