The UK government is set to face a grilling from UN experts next week over its alleged breaches of international obligations on disabled people’s human rights.The government will be examined on Wednesday and Thursday (15 and 16 June) by the UN committee on economic, social and cultural rights on its record on issues such as social security, employment, housing, health and education.The discussions will take place in public, in Geneva, Switzerland, with the committee’s findings likely to be published the following week.A list of issues published by the committee – one of 10 bodies that monitor the implementation of the UN’s main human rights treaties – shows that among its concerns is the steps the government has taken to ensure that “austerity measures” introduced through the 2012 Welfare Reform Act do not “disproportionately affect” the rights of “disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups”, including disabled people.The committee’s list also raises concerns about the government’s decision to lower the benefits cap and freeze working-age benefits, and its efforts to address the housing crisis.It also asks what the UK has done to reduce poverty among “the most marginalized and disadvantaged individuals and groups”, and questions “the reliance on emergency food aid from food banks”.The UK is one of seven countries – including Macedonia, Angola and France – that will be examined by the committee this month, as part of a programme of regular reviews of countries that have ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).The UK ratified the human rights treaty in 1976 and was last reviewed over its progress on implementation in 2009.The Just Fair human rights consortium – whose members include Disabled People Against Cuts, Inclusion London and Disability Rights UK – has submitted an updated report to the committee in the last few weeks, with evidence across the treaty areas, including employment, social security, access to justice, housing and the right to an adequate standard of living.The consortium highlights the need to focus on the UK government’s social security reforms because of evidence that they have “had a retrogressive impact” on many of the rights in the treaty, particularly for disabled people and children, which “cannot be justified by reasons of economic necessity”.In its own updated submission to the committee, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suggests that the government’s social security reforms have breached the treaty, while some of them “have had a disproportionate impact on disabled people, women and children”.It also suggests that the government should do more to consider the impact of policy and legislation on potentially vulnerable groups, while it should also conduct “cumulative impact assessments” of its overall reforms, an action the government has repeatedly refused to carry out.Among particular concerns, EHRC highlights the move to universal credit, which will see the abolition of the severe disability premium; a 50 per cent cut in financial support to families with a disabled child who receive disability living allowance, affecting around 100,000 disabled children; and cuts of about £40 a week to payments to disabled people in work.It also warns that cuts to the disabled students’ allowance “could have a negative impact on how disabled students access and succeed in higher education”.A member of the commission’s treaty monitoring team will be attending the public examination of the UK government.In its submission to the committee, the disabled women’s collective Sisters of Frida (SoF) warns that the closure of the Independent Living Fund has “put seriously in peril the ability of a large number of disabled people with high support needs to live independently in their own homes and communities”.It says that the government’s housing policies mean that disabled people are being forced to live in segregated institutions.Sisters of Frida also highlights the government’s unpopular reforms of the Access to Work scheme; planned cuts of £30 a week to new claimants in the work-related activity group of employment and support allowance; and the barriers faced by disabled women who have experienced domestic violence.Eleanor Lisney (pictured), who wrote the submission with fellow steering group member Armineh Soorenian, said SoF felt it was important for disabled people in the UK to contribute to as many UN human rights mechanisms as possible, because of the government’s attacks on disability rights.She said: “I think it’s important to raise issues everywhere we can. It’s very much a drip-drip effect; the more we go on about it, the more it accumulates and they can’t just [dismiss it because] it is one report.”She said she hoped their efforts would pay off when the committee delivers its conclusions at the end of this month, and added: “I hope the UK government gets more than its knuckles rapped.”Sisters of Frida was asked to put the report together at short notice by the International Disability Alliance.Lisney is one of 30 international disabled women’s rights leaders who will visit Geneva next month for a convention organised by the disability organisation Women Enabled International for training on how to use the various UN human rights mechanisms – like ICESCR and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – to advance the rights of disabled women and girls.The week-long event will also aim to develop a network of women’s disability rights advocates and allies “who can work together when opportunities arise to shape policy in international bodies advancing the rights of women and girls with disabilities”.
ADAM Swift grabbed FOUR tries as Saints downed the Catalans Dragons 39-16 at Langtree Park.A first half hat-trick set Keiron Cunningham’s men off to their seventh win on the spin – and the third came when they were down to 12-men.Luke Walsh was sent to the bin for a reckless tackle, but that didn’t stop the winger latching on to Jordan Turner’s pinpoint kick.His fourth came after half time, whilst there were also tries for Jack Owens and Joe Greenwood.Saints began the game pretty well but it took a fine Jonny Lomax tackle to stop a certain Todd Carney try after the half back had collected his own chip over.But he was powerless to halt Dave Taylor’s burst a minute later that handed the Dragons the lead.James Roby tried a grubber in the 12th minute that went dead and then Lomax just couldn’t haul in Joe Greenwood’s offload.Something had to stick eventually and on the quarter mark, Mark Percival made a break down the left hand side and fed Swift for his 11th of the season.And the winger’s game tally was doubled moments later with a try out of the top drawer.Again Percival made the break and found Lomax on his inside. He was chopped down but within seconds Saints had won another set on the right hand side.Cunningham’s men weren’t hanging around and when it was shifted to Percival once again he made no mistake in popping Swift over.Walsh with the conversion off the touchline.Kyle Amor was unluckily called for a knock on over the line on the half hour mark – and then it got worse for the home side as Luke Walsh was sinbinned for an awkward tackle on Todd Carney, sparking a melee.Punches were thrown from the visitors – ignored by the official – but it didn’t matter as seconds later Baitieri went under the posts.That try incensing the home support even more as it came off the back of a harsh penalty on LMS.Saints hit back with just 10 seconds left in the half.Jordan Turner, who had seen a earlier pass go into touch, saw Swift free on the left and stabbed a lovely weighted kick in his direction.The winger collected, rounded Tony Gigot, and collected his third.Jack Owens making it 16-12 at half time.Saints got on the front foot early in the second as firstly a high ball caused panic in the Dragons’ defence and then Jonny Lomax was felled by a nasty looking tackle on his way to the line.The referee had no action other to award the penalty and Walsh duly tagged on the two points.On 49 minutes, Morgan Knowles darted through a gap too – but was hauled down – again to hand Walsh the simple task.Catalans’ ill-discipline was becoming more regular and following another high shot, Knowles hit Adam Swift for his fourth of the match.Walsh slotting his kick off the touchline.Saints were dominating and a high kick from Walsh almost brought more points – only for Luke Thompson to be denied for an offside by the video ref.Walsh added a drop goal on the hour mark to keep the board ticking before Vincent Duport pulled one back for the Dragons.Saints were always top dogs though and that was underlined when Walsh chipped it to the corner, at pace, and Jack Owens won the foot race to put down.The try made in part by a piece of individual brilliance from Lomax in defence who stopped a 40:20 attempt with his fingernails.Joe Greenwood then capped off a terrific display with his 11th of the campaign with three minutes to go.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Swift (4), Owens, GreenwoodGoals: Percival (0 from 1), Walsh (6 from 6), Owens (1 from 1)Drop: WalshDragons:Tries: Taylor, Baitieri, DuportGoals: Albert (2 from 3)Penalties:Saints: 11Dragons: 9HT: 16-12FT: 39-16REF: James ChildATT: 9440Teams:Saints:1. Jonny Lomax; 22. Jack Owens, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift; 3. Jordan Turner, 7. Luke Walsh; 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 15. Greg Richards, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 20. Joe Greenwood, 12. Jon Wilkin.Subs: 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 17. Luke Thompson, 28. Morgan Knowles.Dragons:1. Tony Gigot; 2. Jodie Broughton, 33. Benjamin Garcia, 4. Vincent Duport, 20. Fouad Yaha; 6. Todd Carney, 27. Lucas Albert; 14. Dave Taylor, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 10. Remi Casty, 11. Glenn Stewart, 12. Justin Horo, 13. Jason Baitieri.Subs: 8. Louis Anderson, 9. Paul Aiton, 15. Julian Bousquet, 17. Gregory Mounis. read more
KEIRON Cunningham is happy with Saints’ pre-season progress so far.The coaching staff have been putting the majority of the 2017 squad through their paces ready for the big opening clash with Leeds next year.“We’re thick in pre-season now,” he said. “The junior players have been back a month and the seniors around three weeks. You have to give the players who played in the Four Nations an allotted amount of time off but Luke Douglas came in afterwards and did a little training with us before heading home.“He will be back after Christmas whilst Adam Walker, Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival will be in before.“We have been doing lots of fitness, strength and team work and it is going well. I thought with a new half back and other players coming in that the dynamic of the team would change, and we would have to teach early on, but we look like we have played together for ages.“That is without the likes of Lomax, Percy, Douglas and Walker, and some of the other senior players who can’t train. We are doing this with juniors so when we push the quality in and a lot more seniors then I am really excited about pre-season this year.”Cunningham admits that the 2017 Saints will firmly have his stamp on it and says he is always on the lookout for more recruits.“When we were recruiting we had a certain character of player we were looking for; a specific player that would fit the club and improve the team. If you look at who we signed, a lot of it is leadership. Matty (Smith), Tommy Lee and Luke Douglas are all experienced and it makes us better by having them on the field.“Is that the end of our recruitment? You never say never. There isn’t much money to bring anything massively in but you have to leave some jiggle room whether it is upgrading juniors or last minute superstars. If something pops up that has quality, and can improve us as a club, then we are always on the lookout.“It is my team now. We’ve had a shake up and made an oath to the board, Eamonn and Mike Rush, that if you aren’t doing the right thing by the club – that’s working hard as the Lomax’s for example – then you won’t be at the club.“We’ve had a big turnaround of players and I think if some had their time again they might do it different.“I believe in the group we have here – we have players and leaders to take us to where we would like to go.“We were a few calls from doing something last year and you could say the same at Leeds the year before. But we don’t want to be a nearly side, we want to compete.“At a club of this calibre expectancy weighs on the shoulders but I believe we have the players to stand up to it.” read more