The Conservatives have always enjoyed a somewhat murky relationship with ideas of equality and non-discrimination. From their opposition to the race equality laws proposed by the Wilson Government in the 1960s, to the enactment of the Immigration Act in the 70s, (which sought to clamp down on immigration by non-white migrants) to their more recent noise-making about parts of the Equality Act. It would be fair to say that the Conservatives have a long history of sabotaging and scuppering anti-discrimination initiatives.
With the above in mind, it should come as no major surprise that following the UK’s review of its general immigration reservation to the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (“CRPD”), Damian Green has announced the Government’s intention to retain the general reservation in its present form – the reservation exempts the UK from the terms of CRPD in relation to immigration functions.
The effects of the UK’s reservation are detailed in our response paper to the consultation on the removal of the reservation to the CRPD. In short however, its effect will be to continue to limit accountability of our Government in relation to its treatment of disabled immigrants, whilst also restricting the extent to which disabled migrants can both claim and enjoy their human rights on the same basis as everyone else.
Given of course that international instruments of this kind are not only litigation instruments, but are also designed to bring about cultural shifts in policy making and and the process through which this emerges, this announcement can only be seen as a deeply retrogressive move.
Out of touch with the rest of the world
The Immigration Minister Minister refers to concerns about ‘excessive demands on the public purse’, and new routes to challenge immigration decisions through the Optional Protocol (aka accountability). Isn’t it funny however that none of this seemed to prevent the 101 other states from ratifying CRPD without a general reservation of this kind?