Support us to help the United Nations to scrutinize the government’s human rights record says Traveller Movement
The Traveller Movement will be responding to the United Nation’s review of the UK government’s human rights record and is asking The Traveller’s Times readers for help.
The Traveller Movement will send its own report to inform the UN working group of how it thinks the UK government has met its obligations and commitments to the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities in England, Scotland and Wales.
The TM’s report will highlight the persistent inequalities these communities experience and their government’s lack of action in protecting, implementing and fulfilling their human rights.
Yvonne MacNamara, CEO of the Traveller Movement, said that she was inviting all Gypsies and Travellers – including the readers of The Travellers’ Times - to take part in that review by completing their survey.
“We have a lot of evidence already of the inequalities faced by Gypsies, Travellers and Roma and how the government has not only failed to implement its human rights obligations, but also has taken action which undermines their human rights,” she said.
“We intend to build on that evidence and include any new issues your readers feel should be brought to the attention of the UN.”
Yvonne MacNamara added that Gypsies and Travellers and campaigning organisations could take part in the review by clicking on this link and completing the Traveller Movement survey form and emailing it back to them at: email@example.com
The aim of the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is to improve the human rights situation in each of the 193 UN countries. The value of the UPR lies in its potential to contribute to real improvements in the human rights situation for vulnerable groups such as Gypsies, Travellers and Roma people in the UK.
Every four or five years, the UN’s Human Rights Council reviews each of the 193 UN member states on how the state has met its human rights obligations and commitments. It will be the UK’s turn to be reviewed in April/May 2017.
What is the UN’s Universal Periodic Review?
The UPR is a monitoring process whereby each UN member state is reviewed by a UN working group made up of 47 other states (the members of the UN’s Human Rights Council). The UK will prepare in advance a written report for the UN working group telling it how it has met its human rights obligations.
Government representatives will then go to Geneva in spring next year and answer questions from the UN working group members about its human rights record.
The UN created the UPR monitoring process in 2006. The first examination of the UK was in 2008 and the second in 2012. Following each UPR, the UN working group made recommendations for action by the UK in a final ‘outcome report’.
The 2017 examination will require the government to update the UN working group on the progress it made in implementing the recommendations made following the 2012 review.
Why is the UPR important?
The UK has a duty to implement the recommendations made in the 2008 and 2012 outcome reports. The 2017 UPR will assess whether the UK has done this.
If not, the UN Human Rights Council has the power to address cases of persistent non-cooperation. The Council has not yet used this power.
It is important for civil society groups to provide evidence to the UN working group rather than let it rely solely on the government’s report. Groups like TM have access to different information about the impact of policies or practices, or different interpretations about whether government action is, in fact, respecting and protecting the human rights of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma people.
Traveller Movement’s report
The UN working group limits reports from alternative groups to 2,815 words. For that reason, TM has prioritised six human rights issues of concern to Gypsies, Travellers and Roma in England, Wales and Scotland. These are:
- Equality and non-discrimination
- Criminal justice
- Planning and accommodation
- Health inequalities
- Hate speech and the media
Your organisation may also be considering submitting its own individual report and TM is happy to share whatever information we have with you.
TM invites you to contribute to the report to ensure it is as inclusive and robust as possible. We are consulting with key Gypsy, Traveller and Roma NGOs and stakeholders and have sent out a short questionnaire with a number of questions to find out what are your main concerns about the human rights issues of equality and non-discrimination, criminal justice, planning and accommodation, health, education, and hate speech and the media.
We are asking stakeholders to complete the questionnaire and return it to us as soon as possible. We would be delighted to have your views via a written response to the survey above. However, if you prefer, you can arrange for one of TM’s team to phone you to talk through and record your concerns by calling us on 0207 607 2002.
In addition, you can go to TM’s on-going discrimination survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KMVDN33 to make your views known.
The Traveller Movement’s report has to be with the UN by September 2016 and our deadline for submitting it is September 16th. We would like to have the report endorsed by our stakeholders. TM will seek that endorsement when we have the first draft of the report ready for circulation.
If you need further information please do not hesitate to contact any member of TM’s team.
As well as the UK’s own report, the UN working group will also have reports from UK civil society organisations, and bodies like the Equality and Human Rights Commission which provide it with evidence and alternative views on what the UK has done, or failed to do, to protect and fulfil human rights on the ground.