28/08/2014 08:22 BST | Updated 28/08/2014 08:59 BST

United Nations Probing UK Over 'Grave' Human Rights Violations Of Disabled

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 18: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, arrives in Downing Street for a Cabinet meeting on July 18, 2014 in London, England. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and carrying 295 passengers and crew, is believed to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile, according to U.S. intelligence officials and Ukrainian authorities quoted in published reports. The area is under control of pro-Russian militias. (Ph

The United Nations has launched an investigation into whether Iain Duncan Smith's disability benefit changes have led to "grave or systemic violations" of disabled people's human rights.

The UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is carrying out the unprecedented inquiry, has the power to launch a formal probe if it receives "reliable information" that human rights violations have occurred in a country signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

This comes after a report last month by the Just Fair coalition suggested that the UK had descended from being an international leader in disability rights to being in danger of becoming a "systematic violator of these same rights".

The committee refused to confirm or deny that it was investigating the UK, as its investigations are "confidential". However, former CPRD member professor Gabor Gombos, told a conference in June that the CRPD had "started its first inquiry procedure against the United Kingdom”, as reported by the Disability News Service.

See also:

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He said formal probes are launched in circumstances "where the issue has been raised and the government did not really make effective actions to fix the situation. He added: "It is a very high threshold thing; the violations should really be grave and very systemic."

This is not the first time the United Nations has waded into British political debates, as UN aide Raquel Rolnik called for the U.K earlier this year to ditch its controversial "bedroom tax" policy.

Rolnik's report was dismissed as a "misleading Marxist diatribe" by Tory ministers, with the UN later telling HuffPost UK that she had been subject to a "blizzard of misinformation" and "xenophobic" tabloid reports.

The UN's latest inquiry sparked further fury from Tory MPs, with one backbenchers labeling UN officials "idiots". Conservative MP Michael Ellis said: "This politically motivated loony left decision brings the UN organisation in to disrepute.

"At a time when there are grave international crises around the world and when in dozens of countries around the world there are no benefits available, this absurd decision is made to attack our country which rightly does more than almost any other to protect the rights of disadvantaged people from all walks of life."

A spoeksperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "This Government is committed to supporting disabled people and we continue to spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services."

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