Joint oral statement delivered by Mr. Young-seok Chang on behalf of MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society and PSPD-People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
10th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Ms. Raquel Rolnik
Monday, 9 March 2009
Thank you, Mr. President.
On behalf of MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society and PSPD-People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, I would like to appreciate the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing (A/HRC/10/7) for her extensive focus on the urgent need of human rights-based public housing policies and the issue of forced evictions which severely threaten the livelihoods of the poor and marginalized people.
We also would like to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council to the fact that the predecessor of this Council, the Commission on Human Rights already affirmed 15 years ago in its resolution 1993/77 that the practice of forced eviction constitutes a gross human rights violation. In 1997, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) also recommended in its General Comment No.7 that each State should use all appropriate means to promote the right to adequate housing including adoption of legislative measures, prevent and punish forced evictions carried out without appropriate safeguards by private persons or bodies, and most importantly, not to evict people in particularly bad weather or at night unless the affected persons consent otherwise.
However, Mr. President and Madam Special Rapporteur, we note with grave concern that the reality is much further from these commitments and obligations of States. As the Special Rapporteur indicated in document A/HRC/10/7/Add.1 (Communications to and from governments), we have witnessed a large number of cases of forced evictions across the globe including Bangladesh, Brazil, and Cambodia among others. State authorities carrying out evictions are completely unaware of the State’s human rights obligations, in particular the need for assessing the impact of evictions on individual and communities, the need to consider eviction only as a last resort after having meaningful consultation with affected communities, adequate prior notification, adequate relocation and compensation.
Mr. President and Madam Special Rapporteur,
Recently in the Republic of Korea, on 20 January 2009, five sit-in protesters against forced eviction and one police officer were killed during the violent and indiscriminate police crackdown and demolitions. Most of the protesters were tenants and small business owners, who had been forced out of their homes and businesses under the Seoul City’s re-development plan, and they were just asking for proper compensation and a genuine dialogue with the government authorities. We strongly believe that the Government of the Republic of Korea could have prevented this tragic incident if it had paid due regard to its obligations as a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the “Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement” as elaborated by the former Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing (A/HRC/4/18).
In this respect, MINBYUN and PSPD urge the States, in particular, the members of this Human Rights Council including the Governments of Bangladesh, Brazil and the Republic of Korea to:
Bring justice to the victims of forced evictions, threats and harassment, and to the human rights defenders, community representatives and activists working on the right to adequate housing;
- Provide protection, such as compensation and temporary housing, to the victims of forced evictions resulting from development projects, and ensure that adequate housing is available to members of vulnerable or marginalized groups;
- Provide adequate training programmes to judicial, security, law enforcement and other government officials on the international norms and standards relating to the right to adequate housing, including the Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement; and
- Invite the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing to visit, and get expert advice with a view to improving the relevant situation of vulnerable or marginalized groups in the country.
Lastly, we would like to ask the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing whether there are any best practices where States entrust an independent national body, such as a national human rights institution, to monitor and investigate forced evictions and State compliance with the Basic Principles and Guidelines and international human rights law.
Thank you, Mr. President.
For further information:
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
5F, Sinjeong B/D, 1555-3, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, 137-070, Republic of Korea
Tel: +82-2-522-7284 Fax: +82-2-522-7285
PSPD-People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
132 Tongin-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul, 110-043, Republic of Korea
Tel: +82-2-723-5300 Fax: +82-2-6919-2004
 SARANBANG Group for Human Rights, GONGGAM-Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group, MINKAHYUP Human Rights Group, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), and Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS) associate with this statement.