Today Wales could make a real difference for equality

imagesBy Koldo Casla and Imogen Richmond-Bishop

(Published first in Left Foot Forward)

The Plenary of the National Assembly for Wales is going to debate today a joint report on equality and Brexit presented by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee and the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee.

In their report both committees recommend the Welsh government to bring the socio-economic duty to life and we urge Assembly Members to give serious consideration to this recommendation.

Established in Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, the socio-economic duty requires public authorities to actively consider the effects that their policies may have on increasing inequalities both nationally and locally. Continue reading “Today Wales could make a real difference for equality”

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Reality of poverty in Newcastle: UN examines effect of austerity

IMG_9322-Edit-Edit-Edit_xlargeThis article was published in The Conversation

The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, is in the UK on an official UN mission. He is meeting with civil society groups, academics, public authorities and above all with people living in poverty and dealing with the consequences of years of austerity.

Alston, an independent expert from Australia, is seeking evidence on poverty, inequality and the effect of austerity on local government funding.

This official UN visit takes place at a critical juncture for the 66m people living on these islands. With Brexit’s bridge to nowhere in sight, Britons have been promised “the end of austerity” by their prime minister. However, think tanks such as the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies agree that the recent budget from the chancellor of the exchequer is far from an end to austerity, and that uncertainty about the future relationship with the EU leaves all financial prospects up in the air.

Alston and his UN team are visiting Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, London – and Newcastle. Continue reading “Reality of poverty in Newcastle: UN examines effect of austerity”

Irish Traveller communities in Cork monitor and campaign for social rights

TRAVELLERS EVICTIONThis article was published in Open Global Rights

Traveller communities in Ireland are using international human rights law to monitor their housing conditions and to demand action from the local council. And they are not the only ones.

A community of about 36,000 Irish Travellers live in the Republic of Ireland and 4,000 more in Northern Ireland. Part of the island’s history for centuries, this ethnic minority suffers extreme disadvantages in relation to health, housing, education and access to work.

The Irish Economic and Social Research Institute reports that seven in ten Travellers live in overcrowded housing, eight in ten are unemployed and only one per cent have a college degree. According to the Human Rights and Equality Commission, Irish Travellers are almost ten times more likely to report recruitment discrimination than the White Irish, and 22 times more likely to report it in shops, pubs and restaurants.

A new report by the Irish Traveller community documents the struggle of this ethnic group for their right to adequate housing. The title says it all: “I know my rights but they’re being denied”. The report is based on two surveys with 95 families in 2016 and 2018 (about 20% of the Traveller families in the county), and identifies four indicators and benchmarks to assess the progressive realisation of the community’s housing rights: 1) a decrease in the number of Travellers on the social housing waiting list that have not yet received a written offer of accommodation; 2) a decrease in the number of people that say their accommodation is unsuitable; 3) a decrease in the percentage who are dissatisfied with their landlord’s or the council’s response to reported problems; and 4) an increase in the number of Travellers who feel they know their rights. Continue reading “Irish Traveller communities in Cork monitor and campaign for social rights”

Renting rights: what England can learn from fairer systems around the world

downloadThis article was published first in The Conversation.

Record numbers of families now rent privately in Britain. Twice as many middle-aged people rent their homes compared to 2008, and it has been estimated that about one-third of millennials will rent for their whole life.

Renting the house you live in has its advantages as it gives you greater freedom of movement and saves you other costs: insurance, service charge, deposit, mortgage interest, to name a few. Yet, for most people, renting privately is not really a matter of choice. It is the result of stagnant wages and the fact that house values rise much faster than the economy.

Britain is becoming a country of (reluctant) tenants. But the law does not keep the balance fairly between landlord’s interests and tenant’s rights. Continue reading “Renting rights: what England can learn from fairer systems around the world”

Brexit: La UE podría lamentarlo si no ayuda a Theresa May

Este artículo fue publicado en Agenda Pública

Me siento extraño pidiéndolo, pero allá voy: creo que los líderes europeos deberían hacer mucho más para ayudar a Theresa May a alcanzar un acuerdo para la salida ordenada del Reino Unido en marzo del año que viene.

En la práctica, para que haya tiempo de refrendarlo por una mayoría cualificada de los 27, además de la Cámara de los Comunes y del Parlamento Europeo, el borrador de acuerdo debería estar finalizado en noviembre.

Estamos en uno de esos momentos en los que lo urgente prima sobre lo importante.

Muchos europeos y españoles siguen indignados con el sentido del voto en aquel infausto referéndum de junio de 2016. Entiendo que muchas personas ansíen dar una lección a esos ingleses estirados que se creen mejor que nadie. Además, no estamos precisamente en la cúspide del entusiasmo europeísta, y ante el temor de que el Brexit pueda contagiarse a otros países, me hago cargo de que muchos gobiernos sienten la necesidad de poner las cosas difíciles como aviso a navegantes.

Lo comprendo y en cierta medida lo comparto (no creo que sean estirados). Pero eso pertenece al ámbito de lo importante. Como decía antes, ahora nos enfrentamos a lo urgente.

Y lo urgente en los próximos dos meses es asegurarnos de que no caemos al vacío a finales de marzo. Continue reading “Brexit: La UE podría lamentarlo si no ayuda a Theresa May”

Supreme Court of Spain: UN Treaty Body individual decisions are legally binding

angela pic womens linkThis article was published in EJIL: Talk!

The Spanish Supreme Court has established that the views expressed by UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies in individual complaints are binding on the State. The Court ordered Spain to pay €600,000 in compensation to Ángela González for the responsibility of its authorities in relation to the death of her daughter. Her daughter was murdered by her father in an unsupervised visit authorised by a judge. National courts dismissed Ángela’s case, but the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) found a breach of her human rights. The Supreme Court has now affirmed that the State must comply with the Committee’s decision. This article discusses the significance of the case and the principle established by it. Continue reading “Supreme Court of Spain: UN Treaty Body individual decisions are legally binding”

Pero, ¿quiénes fueron José Antonio y Francisco Franco? Una visita al Valle de los Caídos

http_o.aolcdn.comhssstoragemidas9d6e1161c8eae10cf48629ae6dc11577206503435Captura+de+pantalla+2018-07-04+a+las+11.03.24Este artículo fue publicado en El Huffington Post

Estoy pasando unos días en la Sierra de Madrid y una calurosa tarde he conseguido que me lleven al Valle de los Caídos. No voy a gastar letras explicándole mis razones. Digamos que últimamente tengo la memoria bastante presente. Pero dejemos el tema de la motivación para otro artículo.

Son las cinco y somos el último de tres coches en la entrada. A la derecha una periodista de La Sexta practica su intervención ante el cámara.

El ticket cuesta nueve euros por persona. No es barato pero no me pilla desprevenido porque me había informado en internet. Se paga desde el coche. Mi acompañante interroga escéptica: “¿Este dinero adónde va?” Se hace un silencio que a mí me parece innecesariamente largo. Claramente no es la primera vez que se lo preguntan. “Es Patrimonio Nacional. Es del Estado.” Pagamos.

Dentro del recinto del valle hay fauna y flora variada, o eso anuncian los carteles, pero yo no había venido en su busca. A velocidad prudente y cuesta arriba, tras unas cuantas curvas llegamos al aparcamiento. Estacionamos sin dificultad. Habrá una veintena de vehículos pero muchos más huecos. Pasamos lo suficientemente cerca del bar/restaurante como para escuchar frases sueltas de comensales en diversas mesas. Nada reseñable francamente (con perdón), pero me sorprende la comodidad con la que charlan. Yo cómodo precisamente no me siento. También hay un funicular hasta la cruz, pero no funciona.

Minutos después nos encontramos frente al monumento. Es gigante, como lo había imaginado. Abruma. A ambos extremos dos mayúsculos escudos franquistas hacen de escolta en piedra. “Es del Estado”, recuerdo las palabras de la funcionaria de la taquilla.

Hay un contraste notable entre la calma del entorno y la agresividad del mausoleo. Quien ordenó construir este sitio tuvo que ser un hombre acomplejado, temeroso de que la historia no lo fuera a recordar con cariño, o de que no lo fuera a recordar a secas. Continue reading “Pero, ¿quiénes fueron José Antonio y Francisco Franco? Una visita al Valle de los Caídos”