Thursday, 9 June 2011

Human Rights EU and UN and violations

This Is a Guest Post...

It is incredibly difficult to talk about the subject of human rights for me without becoming righteous or indignant. Human Rights is something I firmly believe in, that all people have rights which should make sure they are afforded equal living and equal opportunities, that no one is oppressed or hurt needlessly. I believe we have a right to be protected and to be looked after, to be seen as equal, have freedom of speech and be free from threat or harm. I believe in the principles set out in the UN charter and the EU convention of human rights. There can be found here and here. We also hear a lot about the Geneva Convention, a subsection of the charter of human rights specifically relating to the practices of war.

Mostly we are unaware of what our rights are specifically, we take these rights for granted because for the most part in the UK our governments have upheld these rules and we have been treated fairly as people. However, when these rights are compromised we need to educate ourselves as to what our rights are and defend them. Currently the UK government has been told that it is not conforming to the UN charter of human rights on the points specifically relating to disability. The main points can be found hereand these are:

  • The right to not be discriminated against
  • The right to an education
  • Right to employment
  • Right to health
  • The right to equal and fair justice
  • The right to participate in culture and life
For the absolute full list of rights please see this list here. I want to focus on the first and last points I have shown. Firstly that we have the right to live without discrimination. George Osbourne shortly after the ConDem government came into power stood in parliament and said that all people on benefits where scroungers and that there would be strict reform on benefits for the disabled and sick as too many people where claiming these falsely and that benefit fraud was highest in regard to the benefits associated with the disabled and sick. In actual fact this is utter tripe, the actual money lost through real benefit fraud makes up just a tiny fraction of the amount of money the government loses each year. ThisGraph shows that the majority of 'fraud' is in fact mistakes either by the DWP or by applicants and just 20% is actual benefit fraud. Another Graph shows that just a tiny amount of money each year is lost because of benefit fraud. Compared to some of the other figures the £1.1 bil lost through benefit fraud is almost negligible yet those on benefits are being demonised and are suffering the largest cuts, shouldering the burden of an imaginary deficit.

So to support their arguement that the unemployed and the sick and disabled should shoulder a sickening amount of cuts the government publicises certain cases of fraud to newspapers and releases information only to certain newspapers who will write supporting stories. As you can see in this article (also the source of the graphs) the headlines are inciting, aimed to get people riled up and angry at people claiming benefits.

The reality is what the government has done is opened the flood gates on disability discrimination in this country. It has become normal and acceptable to just assume that anyone who is disabled is also a liar or to assume that because someone has a fluctuating condition and is currently well they are somehow lying about the other 50-90% of the time when they are so ill they are house bound. The governments planned policy changes have advocated disability discrimination and as such disability discrimination has taken a sharp rise, many more people are having a problem with it and lets face it, being sick and disabled wasn't easy street to begin with.

Now lets look at the right to participate in culture and to a life. The government under the UN conventions is supposed to do its best to remove obstacles and difficulties which prevent disabled and sick people from exercising this right. There are two things that the government is changing which will make exercising this right practically impossible for many disabled and sick people in the UK.

Time limiting ESA is currently in the impact assessment stage and the so called impact assessment research is ridiculous. You can read the report here (courtesy of Sue Marsh). They seem to think that time limiting ESA to one year wont impact:
  • Health and well being
  • The justice system
  • Human rights
Now time limiting ESA is certain going to affect sick and disabled people in regard to their human rights. They will lose the ability and therefore the right to participate in culture and life as they are suddenly kicked from ESA onto the new universal credit and made to take a work placement which will potentially make their illnesses worse or be dangerous due to their disabilities. People are going to become entrenched and house bound. Simply put people will become trapped by an unsolvable circumstance. The ATOS system of assessment already fails 50% of the time as 50% of appeals are won and this is set to continue as ATOS isn't set to change. This however is the tip of the iceberg. As we know ESA is split and awarded into two seperate categories; The work related activity group and the supported group. Those in the work related activity group are the most at risk under these proposals as they are considered essentially fit to work despite the fact that realistically these people probably should not be working the majority of the time. 

DLA the other support for those with disabilities and long term illnesses is also going to be changed to the PIP payment which will be more difficult and harder than DLA for people to access as the guidelines will be increasingly strict. This again will rely on ATOS and their flawed WCA tests. So with less sick and disabled people able to access the benefits which afford them the right to live life and access culture how exactly is the government following any code of human rights or helping to protect the most vulnerable members of society?

It does get worse...Currently bills going through parliament include one to withdraw from the EU conventions of human rights. We are about to lose some of the laws which protect our basic rights. Fight for these rights, lobby MPs, write to newspapers. Do something! We all have to. Our human rights are already being abused by the current government, don't allow them to get rid of them altogether. You can access the bill here. Please help me and many others who have no voice in taking a stand on your rights and the rights of everyone in this country, lets make the government listen and lets make them at least stick to allowing us the basic human rights afforded to us!