Tag Archives: The Hague

Greek case for austerity “genocide” creates hope in UK

Sick and disabled people in Britain who are losing hope that they will receive justice from the Department for Work and Pensions’ ‘work capability assessment’ regime can take heart from the Greek example.

This blog has reported on Samuel Miller’s bid to take the DWP and its political leaders, including Iain Duncan Smith, to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, for crimes against humanity.

The allegation is that the assessment system for people claiming sickness and disability benefits is hugely biased, depriving claimants of the wherewithal – not just to stay above the poverty line, but to continue surviving.

The loss of benefits inflicted by the draconian regime increases emotional and physical stress until it becomes too much to bear, and claimants have suffered downturns in their physical and mental health, leading to their deaths – either due to the condition that a refusal from the DWP means they don’t have, or suicide.

This is all-too-familiar to educational psychologist Olga Yeritsidou. She tried to take the Greek government to the International Criminal Court back in April. The attempt was turned down by the court, but she is now working on a wealth of information, in order to win an appeal.

In April, she told the BBC: “The austerity measures deprive us of our freedom. By taking away our income and our property, we don’t have access to shelter, food, health and education.

“The suicide rate has skyrocketed. And a lot of our young people are obliged to migrate to other countries, with only the elderly staying here. But they too are dying because they don’t have medication.”

The interviewer challenged her by saying genocide involves intent, so she would have to prove that the Greek government knew the consequences of austerity and intended them, but her daughter Tanya responded: “You must show that not only did they know of the consequences but they were willing to have the consequences… We can prove they knew the extent, they knew the severity and not only were they completely fine with it, but they actively opposed all other solutions.”

This should seem familiar to you.

We live in a nation where more sick and disabled people die every six weeks, due to complications arising from the loss of benefits, than have died on active service in Afghanistan since the Army moved into that country in 2002. Government figures show an average of 73 deaths per week – many due to suicide.

Greek authority figures said it was simplistic to blame deaths there on austerity, rather than seeing them as the result of decades of economic mismanagement. In the UK, we don’t have that problem. Our economy has not been mismanaged (the debt was created because the government bailed out the banks, to stop them from collapsing; it is the banks that were badly managed) and I hope I have started to show (in my series of articles about the economy) that austerity – cutting public spending including welfare benefits – is not the only, or even a desirable, way to climb out of this nation’s debt hole.

But we know from the government’s own figures that it is aware of more than 10,000 deaths of people who used to be on Incapacity Benefit, during or following their participation in the work capability assessment programme, run by Atos on behalf of the Coalition Conservative/Liberal Democrat government.

And we know that Iain Duncan Smith has resisted – vigorously – all attempts to persuade him that his programme of cuts – essentially a pogrom against the disabled – should be modified, making these deaths less likely. Indeed, he explicitly refused to be moved from his post in last October’s cabinet reshuffle, in order to continue overseeing his plan.

He knows the extent and severity and is not only completely fine with it, he actively opposes all other solutions.

In Greece, Olga Yeritsidou is continuing her fight. In an email to our own Samuel Miller, she wrote: “I do have data in my possession pertaining not only to deaths that could have been averted were the medical services and facilities working properly but also studies and estimates from credible sources (or at least allegedly credible) regarding the current situation of the ill, disabled and those with a propensity for illness in Greece.

“Right now I am sorting through a literal mountain of data, evidence and reports on this exact matter and other similar mountains for all the other issues related, correlated or caused by the situation of the so called ‘memorandum-austerity’ in Greece.

“The reason we are doing all this is because the prosecutor’s office at the ICC has asked for further data before they move on our appeal. In short, they are asking me and my daughter to do their work for them, perhaps in hopes of us giving up and certainly for them to gain time.”

Mr Miller, as previously reported, is working on a submission to the ICC with regard to the situation in the UK. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights is now recognizing that austerity measures may violate human rights, and to bolster his own case with the ICC, he is seeking coroner’s reports from the British government and UK citizens, and also first-hand accounts of damage to health caused by the DWP’s austerity-based withdrawal of sickness and disability benefits.

He has also written to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, pointing out the fears that have been raised among sick and disabled people by the latest diktat from Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP – that they should be put on the government’s work programme and made to work, in order to receive their benefits.

If you have a story to tell Mr Miller, you can contact him by emailing [email protected]

The more people help him, the better his chances of success.

If all that isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps you’d care to look at some of the stories of people who have already lost their fight, people fighting for those who are left, or browse some background information about Iain Duncan Smith. It isn’t pleasant reading, and this list isn’t even exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of the extent of the situation. Here it is:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/18/disabled-protesters-one-month-before-heartbreak

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/renewed-concern-atos-medical-assessments?intcmp=239

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/incapacity-benefit-cuts-mental-health?CMP=twt_fd

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/consequences-benefit-changes-mental-health

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/24/atos-faces-critical-report-by-mps

http://labourlist.org/2011/12/the-very-definition-of-irony/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/06/cancer-patients-welfare-work-tests?CMP=twt_gu

http://libcom.org/news/man-coma-loses-benefits-hes-classified-fit-work-19012012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/feb/05/benefit-cuts-fuelling-abuse-disabled-people

http://iphidaimos-thenewsinshorts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/tories-directly-responsible-for-150.html – This blogger states that the DWP regime is a crime against humanity.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2110900/Suicide-training-Job-Centres-Cancer-patients-scrubbing-floors-Welcome-Cameron-s-Brave-New-World.html

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/voices/2012/06/disability-karen-sherlock-sue-marsh

http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/disability-hate-crime

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/welfare-reform-suicides-must-not-be-overlooked

http://www.mind.org.uk/blog/7176_how_i_almost_lost_my_boyfriend_to_the_wca

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ouch/2012/07/panorama_disabled_or_faking_it.html

http://apaththroughthevalley.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/work-capability-assessments/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19048294

http://ramblingsofafibrofoggedmind.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/open-letter-to-ed-miliband-please-add-name-and-postcode-if-you-agree-with-contents/

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/08/02/dont-misuse-your-disability-benefits-the-dwp-might/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19244639

http://aguynamedguyuk.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/british-decency-another-call-to-arms-six-months-on-atos-wrb-disability/

http://www.katebelgrave.com/2012/08/disabled-people-against-cuts-and-uk-uncut-protest-friday-31-august-london/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/31/cecilia-burns-benefits-atos-fit-to-work-cancer-northern-ireland_n_1846314.html

http://maddsuspicions.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/atos-and-the-dwp-murderers/

http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/09/01/newsnight-atos-video/

http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/09/01/police-break-wheelchair-users-shoulder-in-peaceful-protest/

http://socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=29451

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/03/disabled-benefits-claimants-fines-work?CMP=twt_gu

http://www.politics.co.uk/opinion-formers/rethink/article/rethink-mental-illness-new-gp-survey-shows-government-welfar

http://dawnwillis.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/wca-disability-correspondence-continues-between-journalist-soniapoulton-and-labour-leader-ed_miliband-ukmh/

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/compassionate-fascist-conservatism.html?spref=tw

http://networkedblogs.com/Dsbpk

https://twitter.com/SoniaPoulton/status/254887806516740096

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/17/disabled-people-universal-credit-study

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=25903

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/07/21/dad-furious-after-dwp-offer-condolences-for-son-s-death-and-gives-wrong-name-100252-31441114/

http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/08/26/southfields-dad-committed-suicide-after-housing-benefit-cut/

http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2012/10/more-horror-stories-from-atos/

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41070

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41122

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/atos-killed-my-dad-says-boy-1411100

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/why-iain-duncan-smith-should-look-1400558#.UJZXmsby4KU.twitter

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/05/iain-duncan-smith-adviser-lobbying

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2012/11/08/north-wales-man-told-he-was-fit-for-work-day-after-double-heart-bypass-55578-32189145/

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/AusterityMeasures.aspx

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41600

http://jaynelinney.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/ed-milibands-office-sends-reply/

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/11/esa-appeals-increase-by-40-what-the-newspapers-wont-print/

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/11/joint-statement-on-campaigning-against-welfare-cuts/

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35092

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/tory-hatchet-man-iain-duncan-1453863

http://mydisabilitystudiesblackboard.blogspot.ca/2012/11/my-latest-letter-to-dwp-ministers.html

http://wowpetition.com/2012/11/28/waronwelfare-the-resistance-begins/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/30/sick-disabled-work-benefits-programme

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2012/nov-2012/dwp131-12.shtml?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

http://samedifference1.com/2012/12/01/atos-head-gets-1m-bonus/

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
examining foreign affairs that impact on UK politics.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

IDS off the hook with ICC – so evidence needed of Atos deaths

Brian McArdle. On the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday, Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, “57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos.”

People whose family members have died while going through the DWP/Atos work capability assessment are being urged to contact a disability specialist – who has been seeking international legal action against the austerity-enforced injustice.

Vox Political reported back in September that Samuel Miller had contacted the International Criminal Court in The Hague, intending to file a complaint against Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Maria Miller, the ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions, considered most responsible for “draconian welfare reforms and the resultant deaths of their society’s most vulnerable”.

Mr Miller got in touch over the weekend, but said that the result had been disappointing: “They stated that the International Criminal Court has a very limited jurisdiction. The Court may only address the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes as defined by Articles 6 to 8 of the Rome Statute.”

The Rome Statute is the document under which the ICC was established. Article 7, which covers crimes against humanity, states: “For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

“(k) Inhumane acts … intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

I thought this – Article 7 (k) – was a perfect description of what the DWP and its ministers are trying to achieve, and Mr Miller agreed. But he said: “Clearly the ICC is striving to discourage the filing of austerity complaints.”

There is a way forward. He added: “On a welcome note, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently acknowledged that austerity measures may violate human rights — which certainly is a step in the right direction.”

He’s right. The chair of the UN committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay said on October 23 that, although member states face tough decisions when dealing with rising public deficits, austerity measures are potentially violations of their legal obligations to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“All States Parties should avoid at all times taking decisions which lead to the denial or infringement of economic, social and cultural rights,” Pillay said, citing an open letter to States Parties from the committee earlier this year that clarified the committee’s position on austerity measures.

By ratifying the Covenant, member states like the UK have a legally binding obligation to progressively improve, without retrogression, universal access to goods and services such as healthcare, education, housing and social security and to ensure just and favourable conditions of work, without discrimination, in accordance with established international standards. These rights must be achieved by using the maximum of available resources.

Pillay pointed out that austerity measures are also a disincentive to economic growth and thereby hamper progressive realization of economic and social rights.

The committee had pointed out that social insecurity and political instability, as seen in parts of Europe today, were also potential effects of the denial or infringement of economic, social and cultural rights.

The poor, women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, people with HIV/AIDS, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees were particularly at risk, the committee had noted.

Having identified the possibility, we come to the burden of proof. Mr Miller said: “My best hope lies in procuring coroner’s reports where the cause of death is found to be destitution and/or suicide.”

Inevitably, there is a problem. The UK Coronial system does not involve the collating of such information, nor does it look for national trends. The role of the Coroner is case specific, so wider information is not available. This is because the system of inquests into deaths was never intended to investigate whether those deaths were being caused by insane decisions of the government itself.

The law in relation to death certification may be amended in 2014 to provide for Medical Examiners whose role will be to examine such matters – but that is two years from now, and the DWP/Atos system could pile up another 7,600 bodies in that time (using the generally-accepted average of 73 deaths per week).

Mr Miller has written to the DWP, seeking a change of coroners’ duties to allow proper and robust reporting of trends such as stress-related deaths, suicides and/or destitution deaths of welfare recipients and recipients who perished shortly after being stripped of their benefits can be reported to both the DWP and the Ministry of Justice.

But I think we all know there is little chance of success there. This government is hardly going to hand over the tools by which its own ministers might end up in an international court. They’re insane, but they’re not stupid!

So people are going to have to do it themselves. We know about high-profile cases in which deaths have been blamed on Atos. Information about the others needs to be available now.

This is why I want to appeal for anyone who has lost a loved one because of the DWP/Atos work capability assessment system to get in touch with Mr Miller. He needs to know the verdict that was reached at the inquests into their deaths.

His email address is [email protected]

I would strongly urge that anyone writing to Mr Miller keeps their correspondence to the point. It is to be hoped that he will receive a strong response, but this entails a large amount of work. It is therefore important to make that work as easy as possible, perhaps by putting the deceased’s name, address and the verdict at the top of your email.

Grayling, IDS, Miller to be tried for crimes against humanity?

It might seem ridiculous but the DWP and Atos are guilty of the behaviour described in this image – and much worse – leading to loss of income and stress that, for some, has been intolerable. Thousands of deaths have been recorded.

It may seem like fantasy but the International Criminal Court has been asked to consider whether to take legal action against ministers in the UK government whose enforcement of austerity measures has led to the deaths of sick and disabled people.

Disability specialist Samuel Miller has written to the office of the prosecutor at the ICC in The Hague, intending to file a complaint against the ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions who are considered most responsible for the “draconian welfare reforms and the resultant deaths of their society’s most vulnerable” – Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Maria Miller.

He believes there is precedent for such a case, thanks to a request for a Greek austerity trial at the Hague.

But the matter is not cut and dried. Mr Miller’s letter seeks clarification on whether austerity deaths of the sick and disabled in the UK are considered a crime against humanity by the ICC and whether the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would be taken into consideration by the court.

Mr Miller has spent the past year reporting on the crisis for the UK’s sick and disabled to the United Nations. His own verdict is clear as crystal: “Austerity measures consisting of draconian welfare reforms and ‘sham’ means-testing (Atos Healthcare UK 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 mix.”

My own opinion is that Mr Miller is right. At the very least, IDS and his cronies are guilty of corporate manslaughter (see previous blog posts on disability, Atos, the DWP and the many, many deaths).

Will the International Criminal Court see it this way? We’ll have to wait and see.

To be honest, I doubt that this campaign will score a victory at its first attempt.

But the recent verdict on the Hillsborough tragedy has shown that people are prepared to work hard and wait a long time for justice.