40. Memorandum from the Royal
National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
1. The Royal National Institute for the
Blind (RNIB) is the largest organisation providing services for
blind and partially sighted people in the UK. RNIB challenges
the disabling effects of sight loss by providing information and
practical services to enable people to pursue their own lives.
We provide information, advice and, in certain cases, representation
in cases involving the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and
the Human Rights Act.
2. RNIB strongly supports the creation of
a Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Act requires a body
to oversee its implementation and to foster a human rights culture
in the UK. Blind and partially sighted people are often unable
to pursue legitimate cases under the Human Rights Act because
they do not have access to adequate legal advice or the resources
to take up such a case themselves. They are also particularly
hampered because the Disability Rights Commission cannot pursue
3. The Human Rights Commission should be
independent of government and be adequately resourced to carry
out its functions.
4. The Commission's key functions, in order
of priority, should be:
Promoting awareness of human rights.
Providing advice and assistance to
individuals and groups who believe that their human rights have
Providing advice and training to
organisations to enable them to conform to the Human Rights Act.
To monitor the implementation and
effectiveness of the Human Rights Act, and to advise the Government
of the necessity for its revision.
To conduct formal investigations
into public bodies who are believed to have contravened the Human
5. There should be a separate Human Rights
Commission for Scotland, in view of the fact that the Human Rights
Act specifically covers the Scottish Parliament and the Executive
independently of its application to UK and GB institutions. This
Commission should work closely with its UK counterpart.
6. A Human Rights Commission should not
perform the functions of the existing specialist commissions.
The question of a Single Equality Act and a Single Equality Commission
should be treated separately from that of a Human Rights Commission
whose focus should be on the Human Rights Act, as opposed to the
various equality statutes. RNIB is opposed to the creation of
a single Equality Commission at this stage. However, it is clear
that a Human Rights Commission should work closely with the existing
equality and other commissions.
7. There are a number of cases howeverand
RNIB is already dealing with one such casewhere issues
involving both the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the
Human Rights Act arise. RNIB believes that the Disability Rights
Commission should have its powers extended so that it can take
up cases where a Human Rights Act element is involved. Both the
DRC and the Human Rights Commission should work closely on the
promoting of equality and human rights for disabled people.
2 July 2001