World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Water shut-offs in US city of Detroit prompt outcry from UN

Widespread water shut-offs in US city of Detroit prompt outcry from UN rights experts

25 June 2014 –

Disconnecting water from people who cannot pay their bills is an affront to their human rights, a group of United Nations experts said today, amid reports of widespread water shut-offs in the United States city of Detroit for non-payment.

“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” the experts stated in a news release.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been disconnecting water services from households which have not paid bills for two months, and has sped up the process since early June, with the number of disconnections rising to around 3,000 customers per week. As a result, some 30,000 households are expected to be disconnected from water services over the next few months.

The news release noted that due to high poverty and unemployment rates, relatively expensive water bills in Detroit are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population.

Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, said that disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying.

“In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” she stated.

During her 2011 mission to the US, Ms. de Albuquerque encouraged the Government to adopt a federal minimum standard on affordability for water and sanitation and a standard to provide protection against disconnections for vulnerable groups and people living in poverty.

Leilani Farha, the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, voiced concern that children are being removed by social services from their families and homes because, without access to water, their housing is no longer considered adequate.

“If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African-Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the United States has ratified,” she noted.

Under international human rights law, it is the State’s obligation to provide urgent measures, including financial assistance, to ensure access to essential water and sanitation.

“The households which suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected,” the experts stressed.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Leaked: UK Counter-Terrorism Training Material

The PREVENT Strategy has permeated all aspects of public life in the UK. It is important that the training provided to public sector workers to implement the strategy is scrutinised for its empiricism. To this end, CAGE has released the most comprehensive leak of PREVENT training material so far. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Aid Urgently Needed For Drought-Stricken Ethiopia

As the severity of ongoing drought in Ethiopia is exacerbated by the arid effects of ‘super El Nino’, ChildFund New Zealand is appealing to more New Zealanders to contribute to their growing aid response. More>>

'Very Concerned' After Court Ruling: UNHRC On Transfer Of 267 People From Australia To Nauru

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Sanctions To Be Lifted: NZ Welcomes Implementation Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Duty Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the next stage in the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the Five Permanent (P5) members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany... “New Zealand has now started the domestic process for removing the UN sanctions." More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Davos Reports: 62 People Own Same Wealth As Half The World

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos.. More>>

ALSO:

Jakarta: UN Secretary-General On Attacks

The Secretary-General condemns the bombings and gun attacks in Jakarta today... there is absolutely no justification for such acts of terrorism. He hopes the perpetrators of today's attacks will be swiftly brought to justice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news