Response to Home Office consultation: Review of Immigration Reservation

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Review of Immigration Reservation

Executive summary

In responding to this review, the Commission has taken account of its duties under the Equality Act 2006 as well as its role as a designated UK Independent Mechanism under article 33(2) of the Convention.

The Commission believes that the UK's current reservation is unnecessary and invalid and should be withdrawn:

  • The Commission does not believe that article 18 of the UNCRPD affects the right of state parties to regulate immigration provided any discrimination involved is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The Commission considers that such a balance has been established under schedule 3, paragraph 16 of the Equality Act 2010. This provision exempts certain immigration decisions from the duty not to discriminate in the provision of services and public functions where to do so 'is necessary for the public good'. The Commission's view is that the Equality Act provides a proportionate and practicable mechanism for the exercise of immigration functions and there is no need in law, therefore, to retain the reservation.
  • The Commission considers that the current reservation is in any event invalid. The reservation as currently drafted is so broad and general as to be incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention and as such is breach in breach of article 46 of the UNCRPD and article 19 of the UN Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties concerning the permissibility of reservations.
  • We are concerned in particular that the current reservation is not compliant with the principle of non-discrimination set out in article 5 of the UNCRPD , which is fundamental to the UK Government's obligations under the Convention.

The Commission welcomes government's commitment to the UNCRPD as 'a recognised international standard for securing the human rights of disabled people' . It sends an unfortunate message therefore that the UK continues to maintain four reservations and an interpretative declaration to the CRPD. This review presents an opportunity for government to positively re-affirm its commitment to implementing the full realisation of and enjoyment by disabled people of the rights set out in the Convention by withdrawing the immigration reservation.

The Commission welcomes the Home Office's commitment to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) as part of this review process and we look forward to receiving a copy of the completed EIA before a final decision is made whether to withdraw or retain the reservation.

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Last Updated: 11 Jul 2011