Late treaty ratification 'lets down disabled'


By staff

The government has been slapped on the wrists for failing to raitify the United Nations' Convention on Disability Rights.

The international treaty, which aims to guarantee equal treatment to the disabled in all walks of life, should have been ratified by the end of 2008.

But its approval has been held up by opt-outs from clauses and reservations to the treaty which the government hopes to secure.

The delay has resulted in criticism from parliament's joint select committee on human rights, whose chairman Andrew Dismore said was dissatisfied with the government's approach.

He warned the government had alienated disabled people by failing to consult with organisations effectively.

"The UK has led the field in pushing for the acceptance of this convention and advocating the rights of people with disabilities to equal treatment," Mr Dismore said.

"That is why we are particularly disappointed at the trouble we and disability organisations have had getting information about the large number of legal exceptions the government wishes to make to this convention, and at the delays in ratifying it.

"The government should ratify by spring 2009. If reservations are necessary they should be fully justified and compatible with the convention. And we call on the government to consult properly with the people who will be affected by these policies as they develop them."

Responding to the criticism, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "The UK takes the ratification of international treaties seriously and we do not ratify them until we are in a position to ensure we can implement their provisions.

"The work involved has necessarily been complex and time-consuming."

The terms of the UN convention will guarantee disabled people equality in all walks of life, the right to refuse medical and psychological treatment and the right to make their own decisions.


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