Follow Me On Twitter

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Countdown to COSP6 CRPD, 17-19 July 2013

Sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 17-19 July 2013, UN Headquarters
(Webcast and coverage at:

16 July, pre-Conference Civil Society CRPD Forum

TODAY’S SUMMARY: Tuesday, 16 July

Today at United Nations Headquarters, CSOs (civil society organizations) including DPOs (organizations of persons with disabilities) met in a Forum along with other stakeholders to discuss issues on the agenda of the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties, as well as the forthcoming High-level meeting on Disability (23 September 2013).

The Civil Society CRPD Forum was co-ordinated by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) with the support of Disabled People’s International (DPI), Disability Rights Fund (DRF), the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Development and Disability Consortium (IDDC) and Rehabilitation International (RI), co-sponsored by the Governments of Australia, Bulgaria, Mexico and New Zealand, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

This year’s civil society forum focused on mainstreaming disability in the development agenda. Panelists and participants engaged in a lively debate on a number of thematic issues, which presented one over-arching theme that the post-2015 development agenda must ensure that it is inclusive of the rights and participation of persons with disabilities. The agenda is available at:

The morning sessions discussed the mainstreaming of disability in the Post-2015 Agenda thus far: the positive outcomes from Rio+20, Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, World Bank Safeguards, the High-Level Panel Report and continued efforts of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development. Panelists spoke on the next steps of the negotiation processes, noting that a human rights-based agenda requires the participation and commitment of Member States and UN agencies to include persons with disabilities and disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in every step of the process.

The afternoon sessions turned their focus to practical steps for the inclusion and participation of the disability community in the Post-2015 Agenda: exploring the experiences of DPOs in the Global South and shared lessons from various national and regional projects; how to ensure the inclusion and effectiveness of disability targets and indicators in the Agenda; the demand for disaggregated disability data and how it will work in practice; and importance of being inclusive within the disability community itself.

The forum concluded by noting that the participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities is not something that should begin with the launch of the Agenda in 2015 — it needs to begin now. The discussion and consultation process should incorporate persons with disabilities and DPOs at all levels of society and at all stages, from grassroots discussion and Government consultations, to the United Nations international forum.

The entire Forum was webcast live from the United Nations and included for the first time, International Sign interpretation and closed-captioning.


10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Opening of the Conference of States Parties (agenda item 1)

Election of the President and other officers of the Conference (item 2)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, President of the Conference, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kenya

Adoption of the agenda (item 3)

Organization of work (item 4)

Opening statements:

- President of the Conference
- Secretary-General (delivered by DESA)
- Department of Economic and Social Affairs
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

General Debate (item 5(a))

3 - 6 p.m.
Round Table 1: Economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies (item 5 (b)

Chair for the Roundtable: H.E. Mr.  A.K. Abdul Momen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh


- H.E. Ms. Silvia Bersanelli (CONADIS, Argentina)
- Ms. Josephta Mukobe (Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Kenya)
- Ms. Barbara Murray ( International Labour Organization, ILO)
- Mr. Javed Abidi (Disabled People International)
- Mr. Joshua Goldstein (ACCION)


The following side-events will be held tomorrow, 17 July:

Measuring Disability (organizer: UNICEF)

Persons with Disabilities' role in Developing Accessible Environments (organizer: Government of Israel; co-sponsors: Israel’s Commission for Equal Rights for Persons with Disability, and the International Disability Alliance (IDA))

Intersectionality between the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention Against Torture with relation to persons with disabilities (organizers: Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of UN: María Soledad Cisternas Reyes; Chairperson of the Committee against Torture of UN: Claudio Grossman; co-sponsor: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations)

Economic empowerment of persons with disabilities: where are we now and the way forward post-2015 (organizer: Government of Austria; co-sponsors: Governments of Finland, New Zealand and Thailand, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  (OHCHR), United Nations)

Social protection and empowerment of persons with disabilities(organizer: Government of Kenya)

Accessible for All: Examples from Russia, the US, and Europe(organizer: Human Rights Watch)

Destinations for all(organizer: Kéroul; co-sponsors: UN World Tourism Organization, European Network for Accessible Tourism, International Organization of Social Tourism)

Transforming communities for Inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities (organizer: World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry; Disabled People's International; co-sponsors: BAPU Trust (India) and Nepal Mental Health Foundation Stichting Mindrights, Netherlands)

ICTs for disability-inclusive development efforts (organizers: ITU, Broadband Commission, G3ICT, International Disability Alliance, Microsoft, Foundation and UNESCO)

Film screening of ""Colegas"" (Buddies) (organizer: UNICEF, PM of Brazil, Gatacine Films)

List of side-events, venue, timing:

Friday, July 5, 2013

[UK] AN URGENT MESSAGE July 10: Critically Important debate and vote demanding a Cumulative Impact Assessment

Could you all contact your MPs about this and use it as a template adapting it as you think fit.  (For further information, please read


On Wednesday 10 July, Labour will bring Ministers to the House of Commons to debate the changes they have made that affect disabled people, and at about 16:00 they will force a vote to demand a Cumulative Impact Assessment by October 2013 at the latest – and we are calling on MPs from across the House to support it.

I am asking you to respond.This government is failing to support our disabled people. It’s time for Ministers to come clean, admit where they are getting things wrong and change course.

It’s time to start making rights a reality for disabled people.

Here’s the motion in full:

“That this House believes that the Government should publish a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by this Government that affect disabled people (to be published by October 2013).”

Please support the motion on behalf of your constituents.

Kind regards

Atos Assessment Appointment Room Wait Causes Claimant Unbearable Suffering

Since January 2012, I have been reporting frequently and voluntarily to senior UN officials on the crisis for U.K.'s sick and disabled.  I therefore receive many e-mails from benefit claimants detailing their plight.  I have obtained written permission to post one of them, the below, as an anonymous letter.

I am extremely concerned that ATOS healthcare U.K. is rejecting requests for home assessments even if a claimant’s GP supports one. (See, and am distressed by the misery that lengthy Atos assessment appointment room waits are causing some claimants
(see, who would clearly benefit from a home assessment.

I will be writing the DWP ministers, the CEO of Atos Healthcare UK, and senior UN officials regarding this matter.  (I can be contacted at

I have a stenosis of the spinal canal that is unstable. It will never improve, sadly it will only get worse. The Orthopaedic surgeon who last operated on it advised me that I, and I alone, can judge what is good or bad for my well being, simply by monitoring the pain that it causes. Do something, get new pain, don't do what ever it was again, and so on. I take various meds all day and night, Morphine Sulphate and high doses of Codeine with paracetimol. I am in constant pain. Walking and standing are out of the question and sitting upright for longer than 30 minutes or so is the same. Most of my time I spend at home so I can adjust my posture from sitting to laying down as and when I need to so I don't cause more nerve damage or pain. I live with the constant fear of being totally dependent on carers if my spine crushes the nerves completely.
I've made all this very clear on the forms that I've filled out for Atos. I've made it clear that I can't travel far or sit for long without doing damage and therefore causing pain. They either don’t believe me or don’t read the endless forms I fill out for them.
I was called by Atos to book an assessment appointment. I repeated the above facts and said I couldn't accept any date without talking to my wife, who was at work, first. (She works full time, and is also my sole carer when she is at home). I was bullied into accepting a date for the assessment, as this date could be changed, but ONLY changed once, if it was not OK for her to take time off work. The fact that my wife’s job might be at risk if she takes too much time off apparently is tough! The appointment will NOT be at my nearest ‘clinic’ because I use a wheelchair. So I have to travel twice the distance because I’m disabled?
This was the start of the stress and anxiety caused by Atos.
It continued with the drive to the appointment, it took over an hour. After parking we got to the door of the office at 20 minutes before the appointment.
There was an elderly mother and her obviously disabled, adult daughter outside the Assessment Centre door talking to the intercom system, pleading to be let in, but she was not given access as she was a few minutes late for the appointment as the taxi driver could not find the address. This lady was very distressed and the receptionist, although not actually being rude, had the wrong tone of voice and was clearly bored with the situation. I heard the receptionist say you can’t come in as you've missed you slot. However, later I found out that the appointments were running nearly two hours late, so why was she turned away so brutally?
Once she gave up and went away we were let into what was in fact a near derelict building. The waiting room smelled stale and dirty, the carpet had very large stains and the chairs were covered in fluff, hair and more stains. The toilet was cleaner than the waiting room! This place is vile.
The receptionist handed me a form to fill out the first three lines and sign, I was already stressed and uncomfortable after the drive, so my wife offered to do it for me, but was told in the same tone that I heard on our arrival on the intercom, that you have to do it yourself, she added “it’s not our fault it’s the DWP”.
My wife asked for the form to fill out to claim our travel costs and was told we could not do this until after the assessment? Later I realised why.
We sat waiting, my appointment time came and went. I am now in a lot of pain as my wheelchair is built for lightness and fold-ability, not comfort. After 1 hour my wife asked the receptionist if there was somewhere that I could lay down as I was now in a lot of pain but was told “No, all the offices are in use”. I asked how much longer we would have to wait and was told “I don’t not know”. She did however explain that it could be up to another hour or so more as the doctor had to write a report after each assessment. She then went onto blame the customers who don’t put all their problems on the form that they filled out which makes their appointments run over and all sorts of other excuses. Now my stress levels are through the roof. I just manage to keep my polite head on, even when she insisted on talking over me at every point I opened my mouth. She said that as she worked for Atos she could not give her own opinion of Atos. She also said that how did we know that she was not ill or disabled in some way, but what that had to do with our situation I failed to see. Also it seemed that the only thing she was interested in was whether we were leaving or not, so she didn’t have to cancel someone else. This made clear why the poor woman was turned away so brutally on our arrival for being only a few minutes late. And why we weren’t allowed to fill in a travel expenses claim form on our arrival. I also now realise why the waiting room is so filthy and revolting. Their aim was to make things so nasty that no one but the strongest of people would wait for their appointment.
At this point I got very upset, extremely embarrassed and feel totally humiliated. I live my life within my limitations and the extra long journey and the long wait had taken their toll. With the hour long drive to get home and at least another hour waiting and then the assessment itself I decided I could not wait any longer, gave up, and we set off for home, in absolute agony. I want to disappear into a crack in the pavement!  

At home I had to increase my morphine and lay flat for the rest of the evening, and, one of the longest nights I've had since my collapse over 18 months ago. I've lost all hope now and am not sure I’ll ever be able to get out of my front door again. If this is a Government backed method of dealing with disabled people I might as well top myself now! (Name withheld)

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I have found an individual willing to act as "victim" in a UN inquiry and/or complaint against Britain

I have found an individual willing to act as "victim" in a UN inquiry and/or complaint against Britain, and have forwarded his correspondence with me to a human rights solicitor at Leigh Day, requesting that the merits of his case be assessed.

I asked the solicitor to inform me of any fees in advance of doing work on the case, and divulged to her that I am experiencing difficulty procuring benefit claimant mortality statistics from the DWP.

See: and

I'm still eager to hear from other individuals.  For more information, please see: 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

RE: Will the Joint Committee on Human Rights legislatively scrutinize HM Treasury's Spending Round 2013?

Dear Mr Miller,

The Joint Committee at present has no plans to conduct an inquiry into the human rights aspects of the Spending Review.  It is aware of some of the human rights issues raised by this Review (as it was also with the 2010 Review); but resources to conduct such an extensive inquiry cannot be spared from the programme of legislative and other scrutiny that the Committee is already carrying out.  The Committee considers its principal function to be the human rights parliamentary scrutiny of Government legislation.   The Spending Review will itself not be contained in a Government Bill.  As you will be aware, some of what has been announced in the Review will, however, at least indirectly, come through both Houses in Bills which the Committee will consider and comment upon.

Some aspects of the 2010 Review were covered in the Committee’s Reports on Independent Living and the Welfare Reform Bill, and members of the Committee involved in that inquiry are still keeping a close eye on related developments.

You will no doubt be aware that the EHRC conducted an examination of the 2010 Review:
I do not know if it intends to conduct anything similar with regard to the Government’s most recent announcements.

In terms of the various departmental budgets announced in the Review, Parliament (the Commons, at least) will have a chance to consider and approve them (or not), both in the form of the departmental Main Estimates (there is a technical difference between budgets and Estimates which I will not set out here) and in the Winter and Spring Supplementary Estimates which will follow over this financial year) and in terms of some of the legislation this (and next) Session which will carry some of the provisions which will inflict, or result from, the proposed cuts.

I hope this is a helpful response  Please feel free to forward it the senior UN officials you mention.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike Hennessy

Michael Hennessy,
Commons Clerk,
Joint Committee on Human Rights,
020 7219 2797

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Iain Duncan Smith doesn't give a damn about the rights of sick and disabled people

Bedroom Tax minister Lord Freud has threatened councils if they reclassify homes. Yet I have written to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith on two occasions, requesting that disabled people living in specially adapted homes be exempted from eviction, due to rent arrears, as a result of the the spare room subsidy.

I have experience working with architects, and told him that it was not a cost-effective measure to evict a disabled person from an adapted property when the cost of retrofitting a new property is so expensive.

Moreover, I pointed out to IDS that I was coming across news stories of disabled people, living in specially adapted properties, who were either being refused Discretionary Housing Payments or under the threat of eviction. (This has been corroborated by research from UK disability campaigners 'We are Spartacus').

I informed him of the legitimate concern that the DHP fund was insufficient in size to meet all genuine needs, and requested that he pressure councils to demonstrate proper discretion in these cases—told him that the Government might even have to issue a directive.

So has Iain Duncan Smith threatened councils if they evict disabled people living in specially adapted homes? The answer is obvious: He doesn't give a damn about the rights of sick and disabled people.

My Letter To U.K.'s Joint Committee On Human Rights

Joint Committee on Human Rights
Committee Office
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials (see attached) on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this

I am writing to inquire if the Joint Committee on Human Rights intends to legislatively scrutinize HM Treasury's Spending Round 2013?  Does the Spending Review require the approval of Parliament?

Please see the following HM Treasury FOI request, which has been received and acknowledged: (

In my opinion, this document ( lacks credibility, and that's why I have requested the correspondence between HM Treasury and The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) pertaining to Spending Round 2013.  I want to see if the GEO and the EHRC expressed human rights concerns in their correspondence that the government is blatantly downplaying.

Serious concerns regarding the impact of the Spending Round proposals on disabled people have already been expressed:
(, (, and (

I also believe there is a significant risk that requiring benefit claimants to wait seven days before they can sign on for help, and forcing some claimants to survive a month without income will result in their destitution, such as would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the ECHRPlease note this passage from

Official data suggests the average wait for benefit claims to be processed is 16 days, though food banks report that in some areas claimants can wait for up to 25 days. Adding another seven days to that period would mean some claimants trying to survive a month without an income.

One of my U.K. Twitter followers e-mailed me her comments regarding Britain's Spending Review 2013:

"The seven day wait has the potential to push poor people toward the pay day loan sector.  This change was announced  just days after Wonga (digital loan company) increased its typical APR to 5,853%!  The dangers are compounded by the uncertainty surrounding Social Fund support since its localisation this year.

It also needs to be clarified how the new seven-day period will relate to Housing Benefit claims (which are usually passported from Job Seekers Allowance), as any increase in the delay in receiving Housing benefit would simply provide yet another disincentive for landlords to rent to people claiming benefits."

I look forward to your reply and comments.  Please note that this letter is being cc'ed to senior UN officials.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)


Ms. Navanethem Pillay
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Jorge Araya
Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Groups in Focus Section
Human Rights Treaties Division
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
+41 22 917 9106
+41 22 917 9008

Monday, July 1, 2013

Requesting that the DWP hire an epidemiologist and consult with David Stuckler of Oxford University

The Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street

Dear Mr. Smith,

Further to my letter of June 29, 2013 ("What is the DWP's policy with regard to publishing benefit claimant mortality statistics?"), I am writing to request that your department consider hiring an epidemiologist to conduct an independent study of the impact of the welfare reforms on the mortality rate of benefit claimants, particularly the sick and disabled.

I also recommend that the DWP consult with David Stuckler,
a senior research leader in sociology at Oxford University, who is the co-author of “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills” ( He is an expert in his field and I am certain that he'd be of assistance and enlightenment.

I look forward to your reply regarding my proposals.

Best wishes.
Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)