A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… A Labour police and crime commissioner is facing criticism from within his own party for endorsing his force’s “disgraceful” decision to pass video footage and other information about disabled anti-fracking protesters to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).Wayne Blackburn, co-chair of Disability Labour but also a borough councillor in Lancashire, has written to police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw to express his alarm and shock at the tactics of Lancashire police.Cllr Blackburn is among scores of disabled campaigners who have raised similar concerns since Disability News Service (DNS) revealed last month that the force had passed information and footage of disabled protesters to DWP – in an apparent attempt to have their disability benefits removed – and then claimed that it had “a duty” to do so.Two senior political figures – Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell and the Green party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley – have also called for an inquiry into claims that Lancashire police officers have targeted and assaulted disabled people taking part in the protests.The DNS reports mostly focused on police tactics during peaceful protests about the drilling activities of the energy company Cuadrilla at Preston New Road, on the edge of Blackpool.Cllr Blackburn told Grunshaw in the letter that he was “deeply concerned” to hear that Lancashire police was passing information and footage to DWP, which he said was “in clear contravention of any person’s right to peaceful protest”.He said he agreed with McDonnell (pictured at Preston New Road) that these tactics were “shocking” and “unacceptable”, and he said that he was “personally disappointed” that Grunshaw supported the force’s actions.Cllr Blackburn has asked Grunshaw a series of questions about the force’s relationship with DWP, including asking him: “Are you concerned that you and Lancashire Police are adding to the Conservatives’ hostile environment towards disabled people?”A spokesperson for Grunshaw told DNS that he was “aware of the concerns raised and will be responding to the questions posed by Cllr Blackburn”.Following the DNS reports on Lancashire police sharing information with DWP, many disabled campaigners took to social media to express their alarm.Mark Brown, who writes and speaks about mental health issues, said on Twitter that the force’s actions needed to be seen in the context of “15 years of anti benefits rhetoric” which had led to social security turning into “social surveillance”.He said: “In the UK we’ve tried to drive down public spending by activating people’s worst instincts and then telling them they’re good boys for telling tales.“Disabled people, especially people with #mentalhealth difficulties, live in fear of malicious fraud allegations.”After Lancashire police defended its actions on Twitter – telling DNS that it had a “duty” to contact DWP if it had information “to suggest fraud may be being committed” – there was widespread anger among disabled people, including those claiming benefits.The Mental Health Resistance Network tweeted in response: “This is truly shocking. So even the police have joined in the war against disabled people.”Another mental health activist, Rick Burgess, tweeted: “The uniting of the shadow DWP penal system and the established criminal justice system, where if one cannot get you the other will, is a highly significant intersection.“We are now under full Stasi like conditions.”Activist and researcher Caroline Richardson, a member of the Spartacus Network of disabled campaigners, said the force’s actions were “discriminatory and frightening”.She said on Twitter: “Being reported maliciously for fraud is more worrying than being assessed.“This sends a clear message that if you protest then the Police will report you on suspicion of fraud, without reason/evidence/proof.”Film-maker and author Richard Butchins told the force on Twitter: “Your officers can have no idea if fraud is being committed but they are clearly spiteful petty minded servants of those in power – disgraceful behaviour.”Dr Jay Watts, an activist and consultant clinical psychologist, said such actions were “an affront to civil liberties of disabled people” and that a few minutes of video from a protest gave “a false perception of ability”, with disabled protesters often facing “weeks of physical and psychological backlash afterwards but do so to make the world fairer”.Paula Peters, a member of the Disabled People Against Cuts national steering group, said the police actions were “horrendous and disgusting”, and that “attacking disabled protestors then reporting them” was “the lowest of the low”.Felicity McKee told Lancashire police: “You can have a disability and leave the house. We don’t just sit inside all day.“Disabilities can vary from day to day, as some days I’m better than others. That isn’t fraud [it is] just fact. What you’ve done is so immoral it’s shocking.”Another Twitter user with a fluctuating condition, @mookpixie, said: “This is disgraceful. My illness is mostly invisible and varies hugely from hour to hour, let alone day to day.“Most times I leave the house for an hour or two, I then spend days in bed recovering. Could you tell all that from video footage of me leaving the house? No.”And @neonwheelchair tweeted: “I very, very rarely leave the house now as if they took my PIP away, I’d end up homeless. We can barely eat as it is and can’t heat our home.”Another, @vashti, added: “You guys suck. You are the reason I’m too frightened to go outside even when, well within my PIP criteria, I’m well enough to do so.”Meanwhile, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it was not aware of any targeting of disabled protesters at anti-fracking protests.An NPCC spokesperson added: “If an incident has occurred contrary to that, it is for the force’s professional standards department to address it in the strongest possible terms.”Terry Woods, assistant chief constable for Lancashire police and the NPCC lead on shale, gas and oil exploration, said in a statement: “Police forces will always facilitate the right to peaceful protest, while ensuring that disruption to their local communities is kept to a minimum. “Police officers are trained in maintaining public order and using the minimal force to do that. “When an officer does need to use force they are accountable for ensuring it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. “Existing guidance on dealing with fracking protests is currently under review by the College of Policing.“No police guidance has ever, or would ever, recommend targeting disabled people.”A College of Policing spokesperson said it hoped to launch a public consultation on its updated guidance on the policing of long-term protests in the first quarter of 2019.The guidance will contain a section about protests focused on onshore oil and gas exploration.Picture by Gathering Place Filmslast_img read more

Labour has been divided in its reaction to the new

first_imgLabour has been divided in its reaction to the news that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is prepared to launch an investigation into the Labour Party over its handling of antisemitism – with some shadow ministers welcoming the move.It was revealed last night that the watchdog, which was set up under a Labour government, received dossiers of antisemitism complaints from the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Antisemitism last year. This morning, an EHRC spokesperson confirmed that it believes “Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs”.According to the original Jewish Chronicle report, Labour has known about the possible investigation for some weeks. The EHRC has confirmed that it is “now engaging with the Labour Party to give them an opportunity to respond”.If the EHRC finds the party has a case to answer based on the complaint dossiers of JLM and CAA, it may use “statutory enforcement powers”. These sanctions could see Labour forced to prepare an action plan to address the problems in how it deals with disciplinary cases involving antisemitism.A Labour Party spokesperson responded to the news saying: “We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC. Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.”But Baroness Glenys Thornton, a shadow minister in the Lords, tweeted: “I think it’s shameful that @EHRC are launching an investigation into @UKLabour but it’s the right thing to do. I have been advising that this is only way to sort out this awful business for over a year. I hope this will be welcomed by my colleagues in the Shadow Equalities Team.”Steve Reed, also a shadow minister, said: “Let’s hope this finally rids the party of the tiny racist minority, their enablers and apologists who are dragging our great party’s reputation through the sewer.” And Brexit shadow minister Jenny Chapman – part of Keir Starmer’s team – agreed, tweeting: “Well said.”Similarly, backbencher Margaret Hodge commented: “Faith in Labour’s complaints process is at rock bottom. It’s essential the EHRC make all necessary inquiries. We desperately need a culture of zero tolerance towards antisemitism in the Labour Party.”JLM activist Ruth Smeeth described it as a “necessary step”, adding: “I welcome the EHRC intervention but today is another dark day in the history of our party, which could and should have been avoided if concerns had been heeded last year.”So far, no shadow cabinet members have commented on the possible investigation.Tags:Antisemitism /EHRC /last_img read more

Russia eases path to citizenship for east Ukraine residents

first_imgFILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to meet French business leaders at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via REUTERSFILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to meet French business leaders at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.Separatist rebellions broke out against Ukrainian rule in both regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support.Large swathes of the two regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Kiev says it is determined to re-assert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to Putin’s order. Ukrainian officials are likely to react angrily to any indication Moscow is drawing the rebel regions closer into its own orbit.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2023/IMG1617.jpg” alt=”last_img” /> read more