Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Philippines, Nigeria and Greece: 2006 worst housing rights violators


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Philippines, Nigeria and Greece: 2006 worst housing rights violators

In a press conference held today December 5, 9:00 AM (4:00 P.M. Philippine time) at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), a prestigious international housing rights NGO, named Nigeria, Philippines and Greece as recipients of the group's 2006 Housing Rights Violator Awards. It accused the recipients of severe human rights violations for systematically violating housing rights and continued failure to abide by local and international legal obligations.

“Although many governments continue to violate the right to adequate housing, in 2006 Nigeria, Philippines and Greece stand out for their appalling disregard for this basic human right,” COHRE Executive Director Jean du Plessis said in a statement.

“The Nigerian Government has forcibly evicted more than two million people from their homes since 2000. Although the Nigerian Constitution affirms that: 'the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring...that suitable and adequate shelter...are provided for all citizens', the Federal Government has consistently neglected its responsibilities and violated its obligations under international law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” he said.

In Greece, Roma (at times called gypsies) communities continue to face pervasive and persistent discrimination in access to housing. A majority of Roma in Greece live in extremely poor conditions - lacking access to basic services such as water and electricity - and frequently face segregation and forced eviction by local authorities, he said.

“It is completely unacceptable for a long-standing member of the European Union (EU) to allow such a situation to continue within its borders. What we are facing here is the blatant and deliberate exclusion of a particular group, creating a third world reality within a wealthy European State. The shacks of the Roma in Patras, Athens or Asproprygos are no different from those in slums in Nairobi or Manila,” he said.

In the Philippines, more than 145,000 people (29,000 families) have already been evicted from their homes in Metro Manila and Bulacan province since early 2005 due to the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railway system referred to as the 'Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project.’, he said.

“COHRE’s research reveals that most of the evictees have been moved to relocation sites where living conditions are appalling due to a lack of basic services such as potable water, electricity and sanitation facilities. The unsanitary conditions and an outbreak of dengue fever at the Southville relocation site in Cabuyao have claimed the lives of 12 infants and children this year. Forced evictions and demolitions are also being carried out in preparation for the 12th ASEAN Summit to be hosted by the Philippines next week. The evictions and demolition in Metro Cebu have left more than 3,000 people homeless since September 2006.”

Three Catholic Bishops, including Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, have criticized the government’s eviction practices along the railroad, according to the Urban Poor Associates (UPA). -30-

COHRE and Urban Poor Associates (UPA) will hold a joint media conference:

What: the Philippine Government, recipient of 2006 Worst Housing Rights Violator

When: December 6, 2006 (Wednesday), 10:00 AM

Where: Newsdesk Café,# 8 Scout Madriñan corner Scout Tobias Streets, South Triangle, Quezon City

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