Our Rights - issue 16, November 2009 A logo Please visit http://www.daa.org.uk/ to leave comments, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your news stories. This newsletter can be also be downloaded from the DAA website as text (RTF) and PDF versions. Contents Convention Sign ups Reports on CRPD submitted to the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) WHO - Task Force on Disability UK Police accept failures in Pilkington case but say Fiona partly to blame Editorial comment All children admitted to secure units in Scotland are disabled Disabled people hit hard by new benefit test Editorial comment: Love is Hate! War is Peace! EHRC Disability Committee publishes work plan Not Aliens…. Human Rights Training by DDA for Disability Lib International Palestine: UN report finds disabled people hit hard during siege of Gaza Bulgaria, Serbia, Rumania: Disabled people remain trapped in institutions Editorial comment USA: Campaign against rebuilding of institution for people with learning difficulties USA: Emphasis on prevention and cure leads to health inequality for disabled people Editorial comment USA: Disabled people face higher rates of crime Editorial comment USA: Congress passes hate crime bill Chile: Despite legislation, thousands of buildings remain inaccessible New Zealand: Disabled children's right to education Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Disabled children in crisis Niger: Begging rather than education for most disabled children Salamanca revisited New International Deaf Information Project New videos on disability Convention Sign ups 143 signatories to the Convention 87 signatories to the Optional Protocol 71 ratifications of the Convention 45 ratifications of the Optional Protocol Reports on CRPD submitted to the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) In our August newsletter we reported that the OHCHR was writing a report on the progress of the CRPD and had asked for submissions from all stakeholders. These submissions are now on line. While the quality is uneven, for those concerned about what governments are doing on the Convention, they are interesting. Unfortunately, although many national human rights organizations have reported to the Commission, only a handful of national DPOs have done so. The OHCHR final report will be produced at their meeting in March 2010. The submissions can be downloaded from: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disability/submissions.htm WHO - Task Force on Disability The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General has established a Task Force on Disability to lead the organization's efforts and acknowledges that the Convention will change the way WHO works. The Task Force, which includes representatives from all levels of the organization, aims to ensure that WHO policies, programmes and projects are designed and implemented taking into account disabled people. During its first year, the Task Force achieved significant results in key areas, including information access, physical access, awareness-raising and technical programmes. A work plan has been drawn up for the second year. For more information contact Tom Shakespeare (email@example.com). UK Police accept failures in Pilkington case but say Fiona partly to blame As reported on our website, following the Coroner‟s hearing into the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter, Leicestershire Police Authority convened a special meeting on October 13th to receive a report from the Constabulary. At the meeting the Chief Constable offered his report of the events leading up to the deaths. He also set out at some length what was being done to ensure hate crimes would be more effectively identified and the victims supported. The key finding of the police review was that „… failure to recognise that the victimisation was related to disability resulted in the hate crime policy not being adhered to.” This came about because the reported incidents were not linked, information about offenders was not shared between different agencies and disability was not identified as an issue. They also say that Fiona herself was partly to blame because she refused to pursue a criminal prosecution against her family‟s tormentors. (See comment below) The full police report can be downloaded at: http://www.leics-pa.police.uk/news-and-events/20091013-special- police-authority-meeting-meeting/ The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is also to investigate the case. IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said they would be examining, "how seriously the police responded to her calls for help, whether the action was appropriate and what actions they did or did not take". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8279815.stm The Equality And Human Rights Commission is to ask Hinckley and Bosworth Council to provide evidence it is compliant with its legal duty to eliminate disability-related harassment. It will also be contacting the Independent Police Complaints Commission to find out the scope of its inquiry before deciding whether to take any further action. http://cecollect.com/ve/ZZZKJB30Wk71sL76b/VT=0/page=11#2 Editorial comment: The police‟s multiple failures in this case are clear from their own report. But the attempt to shift some of the responsibility onto Fiona is outrageous. As the police must know, someone who is vulnerable, terrified and living under siege from their neighbours is unlikely, without a great deal of support, to want to enter into the lengthy and complex process of a criminal prosecution. As she had been given no real protection, despite her previous complaints to the police, what was Fiona to expect from such a move but more harassment? Apparently, the Leicestershire police still don‟t get it! All children admitted to secure units in Scotland are disabled A Scottish government report reveals that in 2008 all the children sent to secure units were disabled. Secure units are residential homes that cater for children at risk and offenders under the age of 16. Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo‟s Scotland, said: “We are not surprised to learn that all the young people who were in secure accommodation last year had a „known‟ disability. Our experience of working with young people who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties show that they have complex backgrounds and that earlier the support is given, the easier it is to help them reach their full potential.” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6852829.e ce Disabled people hit hard by new benefit test Two-thirds of applicants are being refused the new sickness- related benefit ( employment support allowance, ESA). This means that many of the 2.6 million existing incapacity benefit claimants will probably have their benefits cut as they are reassessed over the next two to three years. Last year only 5% of those seeking ESA were assessed as totally incapable of work and entitled to the full benefit of £108.55. A further 11%, potentially capable of work, were put on a rate of £89.80 a week, and were expected to co-operate with efforts to ready themselves for work. A third of the initial claimants dropped out before completing the claim, and a further third were seen as fit for work. While the figures and independent reports indicate that the new tests are causing real hardship for disabled people, the government claims that they show the new benefit “…is stopping more people getting trapped on long-term sickness benefit, a key aim of the Government‟s major welfare reform programme.” But Mark Baker, chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, says, “We believe, as we said all along, that it (ESA) would lead to people being put on to other inappropriate benefits where they don't get the support or help they need….". Because the government‟s main concern was to slash spending, Baker fears that most disabled people will eventually "… end up at the feet of informal carers or local last-ditch charities. People will effectively drop out of society." http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/oct/28/work-capability- assessment-incapacity-benefits The government‟s analysis of the official figures can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2009/october- 2009/dwp043-09-131009.shtml Editorial comment: Love is Hate! War is Peace! Disabled people, one of the poorest groups in the UK, seem set to become further disadvantaged by the government‟s harsher benefit regime. Conditions will be made worse as local social services, providers of essential care and support for disabled and older people, are faced with having to cut spending by between a quarter and third over the next few years. The new benefits process, the tests and how they are administered – for example, people being asked to fill our their claims over the phone without the benefit of independent advice – is no more than a brutal cost cutting exercise. That the government is trying to sell this as something positive that will stop people „getting trapped on long-term sickness benefit‟, is worthy of George Orwell‟s 1984. EHRC Disability Committee publishes work plan The Equality and Human Rights Commission Disability Committee, hit by high profile resignations during the year (see August edition), has just published its work plan for 2009/2010. Publication comes six months into the period covered by the plan. Among its 12 main priorities are; To ensure real disability equality is captured within the government‟s forthcoming Equalities Bill To promote and monitor the implementation of the UN Convention To help improve the disability equality schemes that all statutory authorities are required to implement To influence public service reform and support independent advocacy To improve access to employment Develop rights focused account of the position of disabled children in the UK Formulate a considered perspective on end-of-life decisions. For further details and the full report: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/media-centre/disability- committee-work-plan-to-tackle-key-issues-for-disabled-people/ Not Aliens…. Human Rights Training by DDA for Disability Lib DAA is planning further Disability Lib human rights training at the Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, Norwich, Norfolk on November 20 - 22. This three-day training is absolutely free and open to disabled representatives of DPOs in the region who can then use the training to help build the capacity of their organisations. Training sessions start at 2.00 pm on Friday and end at 12.30 on Sunday, followed by a parting lunch. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for registration. We only have 15 places available - so book early. Further training sessions will be in the North West England in March, and the North East in May. International Palestine: UN report finds disabled people hit hard during siege of Gaza A recent UN human rights report on the Israeli siege of Gaza details the horrendous plight of civilians, many of whom were severely injured, unable to get medical attention and consequently will become permanently disabled. During the fighting disabled people found it extremely difficult to escape and many lived in continual fear of being left behind. The lack of power supply meant vital equipment could not be used. Wheelchair users were often stranded because of rubble in the streets and the destruction of buildings. Many people, including children, experienced serious psychological trauma which is expected to result in a substantial increase in mental health problems. There are many terrible stories recounted in this report. For example, the Mission heard that a pregnant woman was told by an Israeli soldier to evacuate her home immediately with her children and to leave behind a child with learning difficulties. She refused to do so. In another incident a wheelchair user had to abandon his chair and be carried from his destroyed house. A Deaf person sheltering in a school was badly traumatised because he could not communicate and, therefore, was unable to understand what was happening. Hamas, the civil authority in Gaza does not escape criticism for human rights abuses. However, the UN Mission found that Israel had been guilty of violating international law and many human rights conventions by, among other actions, deliberately imposing collective punishment on the civilian population. The report, Human Rights In Palestine And Other Occupied Arab Territories. Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, can be found at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/F actFindingMission.htm Bulgaria, Serbia, Rumania: Disabled people remain trapped in institutions An investigation of institutions for people with intellectual and mental health impairments in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, has found evidence of human rights abuses, inhuman and degrading treatment and appalling neglect. Filthy conditions, the use of physical restraints and high-dosage drugs to control behaviour remain routine. The three countries, all with a grim track record with respect to institutional care, are still failing to meet international standards. Residents are not being treated, so much as controlled. People do not leave their beds for years and children are being kept tied down as a matter of course. The European Commission has said it may suspend payments under the European Social Fund in case of serious irregularities in Bulgarian and Romanian institutions. However, in practice, Brussels has been ignoring such abuses for years. For example, Laura Parker, a social policy advisor for the European Commission in Sofia before Bulgaria joined the EU, says: “It is clear the decisions about enlarging the EU were primarily political [and] human rights are simply not an EU priority.” She suggests that European Commission officials edited her reports so that in the end they misrepresented the reality of conditions in Bulgaria. Far from Brussels and the conscience of national governments, institutions housing the most vulnerable in these countries remain no better than dumping grounds. For many years groups lobbying for reform have argued for deinstitutionalisation. However, according to the Open Society Mental Health Initiative, “none of the new EU member states have concrete plans or financing mechanisms to develop networks of community-based alternatives.” All this is in clear violation of the Article 19 of CRPD which recognizes disabled people‟s right to live independently in the community. For the full report see: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/23107/ For more information on human rights and mental health and the fight for deinstitutionalisation see: http://www.osmhi.org/ BULGARIA, Svilengrad “Svilengrad has a dirty secret, called the pavilion for the immobile. It‟s the stench that hits you first. The sweet and sour, aggressive stench that is the oldest resident of almost any institution – sticky and sickening, stench of urine and faeces, of drenched floors and mattresses, of something rotting. Women are packed in rooms, where beds are the only piece of furniture.” From Yana Buhrer Tavanier's photostream, “Dumping grounds for people”, which accompanies the report. This and many other photos can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/41740685@N04/sets/7215762199723 9923 Editorial comment: The issue of institutional segregation is not confined to the east of Europe. For example, more than 1.2 million disabled people are in institutions throughout Europe. In some countries numbers confined to institutions are increasing and/or conditions becoming more oppressive. http://www.community- living.info/documents/ECCL_Briefing_COE09_FINAL.doc. As the next piece indicates, the fight against institutionalisation is not confined to Europe. USA: Campaign against rebuilding of institution for people with learning difficulties The Virginia Alliance for Community is fighting against plans by the state to rebuild an institution for people with learning difficulties. They argue this represents a reversal of the state‟s policy of moving to community-based solutions. Not only are the state‟s plans much more costly than providing support in the community, but the Alliance also claims that putting disabled people in such segregated institutions violates federal disability laws. http://www.vbpd.virginia.gov/downloads/AllianceCommunityforAllR elease10082009.pdf. USA: Emphasis on prevention and cure leads to health inequality for disabled people A massive (434 page) authoritative report from the National Council on Disability has found that disabled people “…bear a disproportionate burden of poor health compared with the general population …” The report, which contains over 40 detailed recommendations, points out that disabled people face many barriers to obtaining appropriate health care. For example, a lack of disability equality training for health care professionals has resulted in “… misperceptions and disability stereotypes that can lead to ineffective and inappropriate care…”. Added to this, and as a consequence of the lack of awareness, researchers discovered there was a widespread failure to provide accessible equipment, information and communication. Disabled people also often cannot afford health insurance or if they can it does not cover specialty care, medication, medical equipment or assistive technology. Because disability is viewed as a health issue, the report finds that research on disparities in health care does not recognise disabled people as a distinct group. This has meant that the barriers to equality of treatment have not been clearly identified or addressed. Most tellingly, the report concludes that, “The root causes of these longstanding health and health care inequities involve multiple, complex factors that are embedded in the historical evolution of the nation‟s health care structure, and the parallel research and public health emphasis on disability prevention and cure.” (Emphasis added). www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2009/pdf/HealthCare.pdf Editorial comment : The report‟s findings provide clear evidence that seeing disability essentially as a medical question, rather than one of discrimination and denial of human rights, has served to do little more than undermine the health of disabled people! USA: Disabled people face higher rates of crime The first national survey of crime against disabled people has been produced by the US Justice Department. The figures relate to 2007 and are age adjusted. Among the report‟s findings are the following: Disabled people are twice as likely to suffer rape or sexual assault as non-disabled people. Non-fatal violent crime against disabled people is one and a half times more likely than against non-disabled people. Disabled women are more likely than men to be the victims of crime. Finally, only 20% of disabled people who were the victims of crime felt that they‟d been targeted because they were disabled. For the full report see: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/capd07.htm Editorial comment: The report is important not only in giving a picture of disabled people‟s experience of crime, but also in showing what can be done by treating disabled people as a distinct group for the purposes of collecting information. This is in accordance with Article 31 on the UN Convention that calls for disaggregated data that can help identify and address barriers that prevent disabled people exercising their rights. It is heartening to see, as reported below, that after many years of lobbying, a Federal hate law, that includes disability, is about to be signed. USA: Congress passes hate crime bill The House of Representatives voted on October 7th to expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to those committed because of a victim‟s sexual orientation, gender or disability. This would add to the current federal law that covers crime motivated by race, colour, religion or national origin. The hate crimes legislation would give the federal government authority to prosecute violent hate crimes when local authorities failed to act. It would also allocate $5 million a year to the Justice Department to provide assistance to local communities in investigating hate crimes, a process that can sometimes strain police resources. Despite opposition from Republicans and some conservative Democrats, the bill was approved by the Senate on October 22nd and now goes to the White House for President Obama‟s approval. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/us/politics/23hate.html?_r=1&r ef=us Chile: Despite legislation, thousands of buildings remain inaccessible Almost six years after the implementation of a decree to make buildings accessible to disabled people, up to 6,000 public buildings (58%) and apartments in Chile remain unequipped with ramps or elevators. Santiago accounts for 2,200 of these buildings. “Unfortunately we haven‟t advanced much,” said Luisa Revetria, Acting Director of the FONADIS (National Foundation for the Disabled) Judicial Department. “Furthermore, many ramps in buildings are too steep and do not meet accessibility standards.” According to Santiago Mayor Pablo Zalaquett, buildings that do not comply with this decree have been fined up to US$1,400. But the fines have been to no avail: building owners do not pay up. The problem even extends to hospitals for people with acute medical needs. Patricio Inostroza, who uses one such facility, comments, “It is a scandal that there are no ramps or adequate access for persons with mobility problems in the Trauma Institute (Instituto Traumatológico).” http://diario.elmercurio.cl/2009/10/19/nacional/nacional/noticias/35 4dde8c-46bc-40c4-8228-0cbd9f561fa0.htm New Zealand: Disabled children's right to education In response to major complaints made by two national disability organisations, the New Zealand‟s Human Rights Commission has published Disabled Children’s Right to Education. The report assesses how well the right to education for disabled children and young people is being realised. The Commission and others will use the findings to advocate for the right to education and also to contribute to the Government‟s Review of Special Education. The report summarises complaints and enquiries to the Commission, New Zealand‟s legal and policy frameworks, the concepts of inclusive and special education, the international human rights framework and legal and policy approaches in comparable countries. It concludes that there are significant outstanding issues for disabled students in the right to education including, limitations on the availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of education services. The report can be downloaded from: http://www.hrc.co.nz/home/hrc/disabledpeople/disabledchildrensrig httoeducation.php Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Disabled children in crisis According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), two million people are displaced in the eastern DRC. This means about 200,000 disabled people are among the displaced, many of them children. Robert Golden, a doctor, states in the 2008 UN Children‟s Agency (UNICEF) report, Monitoring Child Disability in Developing Countries, that the plight of disabled children in emergency situations is an “important but largely unaddressed issue”. This is especially true in the DRC, where child disability receives little attention among the myriad crises befalling the country. “Unfortunately, disabled children are more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination. They face reduced social participation and have less access to education and other social services than children without disabilities,” states Golden. In addition, according to Handicap International and Heal Africa, inside the camps as well as outside, disabled children struggle daily with social stigma and discrimination. http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?Reportid=86710 Niger: Begging rather than education for most disabled children Despite efforts to accommodate disabled students in Niger's schools, a lack of trained specialists limits the number of children schools can serve, according to Handicap International. "Schools for blind and deaf persons do not have qualified teachers to work with this population," comments Abdourhamane Barké, an outreach worker with Handicap International in the capital Niamey. Niger has five such schools in the capital Niamey, but most disabled children never make it to a classroom. According to Fatou Sidibé, deputy director of the special education division, "They are pulled out of school to beg by families who see these children as a source of income.” Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, is one of the poorest on the continent. http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?Reportid=86343 Salamanca revisited In 1994 ninety-two governments and twenty five international organizations meeting in Salamanca, Spain issued a statement calling for full inclusive education to be promoted throughout the world. In October 2009, 600 people representing 58 countries returned to Salamanca to reaffirm that commitment. The new conference resolution welcomes the UN Convention and especially Article 24, that calls on all governments to “…ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning…”. Participants urged all states to ratify the Convention and set in motion plans to implement inclusive education. They also called on international agencies to increase their efforts in this area. Finally, they announced the launch of INITIATIVE 24, an international project to lobby for inclusive education. http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages06/press.html#briefing11 New International Deaf Information Project A new project has been developed to provide information on deaf organizations and schools in 149 countries. Launched by the Gallaudet University Center for International Programs and Services (CIPS) in October 2009, the World Deaf Information Resource Project provides contact information for hundreds of international, national and local-level organizations and schools. The website also links to on-line reports about the human rights conditions and living conditions of deaf people around the world, as well as other information resources for deaf individuals and organizations. The new website can be accessed at http://cips.gallaudet.edu/wdi.xml. People are invited to submit information about deaf organizations, schools, and deaf-related information resources not already included in the project to World.Deaf.Info@gallaudet.edu. New videos on disability Three new videos on disability issues are available on the internet. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a video on the barriers to employment facing disabled people. http://www.ilo.org/public/english/disability/countusin/main.html The UN Department of Public Information in partnership with the UN Department of Economic Affairs (DESA) has released a brief video on the sigma and discrimination that disabled people are forced to endure. http://www.un.org/av/unfamily/21stcentury.html (Look for Programme #34) A video of the meeting of disabled people in the European Parliament on September 16th as part of the European Network on Independent Living‟s (ENIL) Freedom Drive is available on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VdaWd29- C4&feature=player_embedded# This newsletter is produced by Disability Awareness in Action for the Disability LIB project. This project is funded by the Big Lottery.