The UN is to carry out a major investigation into the Conservative government. After numerous complaints were made, it will be reporting on concerns surrounding Britain’s human rights record, the impact of austerity, poverty, mass surveillance, racism, and press freedom. But no UK mainstream media outlets appear to be reporting this potentially damning investigation.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is carrying out its periodic review of the UK’s commitment to international human rights law. So it asked hundreds of campaign groups, charities and organisations to submit evidence [pdf p13]. And the complaints made by these bodies are damning.
The Tories: a damning assessment
They include [pdf]:
- That the UK leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would “undermine” and “erode” human rights. And that it would also pose a “threat” to previous UN rulings in this area.
- That, after the EU referendum, ethnicity-related hate crime rose 57%.
- Overcrowding in prisons.
- Cuts to legal aid.
- “Very little” action on tackling human trafficking.
- The UK government’s failure to address the “pervasive” issue of violence against women and girls.
- Gender inequality.
- A failure to tackle child poverty.
Organisations also raised [pdf] concerns about:
- The use of immigration detention centres; specifically relating to length of incarceration and the imprisonment of vulnerable people.
- A “reluctance” by the government to adhere to UN conventions on the rights of migrant workers.
- Treatment of whistleblower Julian Assange, which raised “serious concerns” about the government’s “commitment to the international rule of law”.
- The government making “little progress” on dealing with discrimination; also that ethnic minorities were “over-represented” in the criminal system (i.e. ‘racial profiling’).
- UK social care needing a “significant injection of funding” to protect older people’s human rights.
- The fact that the government needed to take “immediate” action over air pollution.
- Counter-terrorism and surveillance laws, and the Investigatory Powers Bill, failing to comply with human rights standards.
- The restraint of children in custody increasing, and the fact that England was of the few countries in Europe to issue life sentences to children.
Making the rich richer
Furthermore, other complaints [pdf] included:
- That the use of ‘secret courts’ was contrary to the UK’s supposed commitment to international treaties.
- That there should be a judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in abuse of prisoners abroad.
- The criminalisation of environmental protesters.
- That the Lobbying Act was restricting the work of charities.
- The Trade Union Act “undermining” the power of unions.
- That, while cutting welfare, the government “had reduced the tax burden of the wealthiest earners and businesses”.
- The use of food banks was the biggest area in which the UK had “regressed” since 2012. And that the government was failing to “eliminate” food insecurity.
- That reforms to welfare had “seen a regression in the welfare system’s ability to tackle poverty, with a negative impact on vulnerable social groups”.
The UK government was also criticised [pdf] for:
- The “negative impact” of UK drug laws.
- Ignoring previously “strong” recommendations from the UN, and letting child poverty increase.
- Allowing disabled people’s human rights to “regress” because of welfare reforms.
- Allowing “the use of hate speech by politicians and media [to create] a climate in which racism and hate speech was thought acceptable”.
But the UK government either [pdf] denied or said, in essence, that work was in progress on all these criticisms. The UN will release its findings and recommendations on Tuesday 9 May.
Another day, another UN report
But we’ve been here before. As The Canary has documented, the UN twice reported on the UK government in 2016. And it found that the Tories had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights; while also eroding the rights of single parents, minority communities, and the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.
The Tories’ response to both those reports? To simply shrug their shoulders and say they didn’t believe them. So the response to this latest round of damning criticism will probably be much the same. But at the time of The Canary publishing this article, only Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik had reported this story.
It is now down to the public to decide if they want to live in a country where their government can commit such flagrant abuses against its citizens. And then, a decision must be made at the ballot box on 8 June.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. People can call 0300 200 3500 if they don’t already have a national insurance number.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
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