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Individual Complaints

In the framework of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur receives information on alleged violations of human rights of people living in extreme poverty. To the limit of available resources and according to the reliability of information received, he may accordingly write to the concerned Government, either jointly with other special procedure mandate-holders or independently. The Special Rapporteur will seek clarification from the Government and invite it to comment on the allegations. The Special Rapporteur may further remind the Government of its obligations under international law and request information, where relevant, on steps being taken by the authorities to redress the situation in question. In appropriate cases, the Special Rapporteur may also write to non-State actors, such as business enterprises and international organizations. The Special Rapporteur urges all parties to respond promptly to his communications and to take all steps necessary to redress situations involving the violation of the rights of people living in poverty.

Below is a list of communications issued by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights since his appointment in June 2014, organised in a chronological order. It contains only those communications that have already been published in the joint communications report of special procedures mandate holders.  Communications are confidential until they are published in the joint communications report three to six months after they are transmitted to the concerned Governments.  Allegation letters are identified with (AL), urgent appeal with (UA), and other communications with (OTH). Several communications are addressed jointly with other Special procedure mandates, and are therefore joint communications, identified with as JAL or JUA.

Country

Date

Type of comm and ref.

Summary of the allegations transmitted
(original language)

Reply from State

Published in report

Spain
09/05/2016

JAL
ESP 3/2016

Presuntas violaciones de los derechos humanos a la vivienda, al agua y al saneamiento, a la salud, a la educación y a la alimentación de miembros de una comunidad romaní. Según la información recibida, desde 2005, unas 435 personas, habitantes de un asentamiento informal conocido como “El Gallinero” en Madrid, viven en condiciones precarias y de insalubridad. Las viviendas tendrían un acceso limitado a la electricidad y al agua potable; y carecerían de servicios de saneamiento y de recolección de basura adecuados. Los riesgos graves de salud y contaminación ambiental podrían ser la causa de varios casos de diarreas y deshidratación en niños pequeños. Debido a razones administrativas relacionadas con el empadronamiento o la situación irregular de las familias, los habitantes también tendrían un acceso limitado a medicamentos o servicios de salud, a servicios educativos y a ayudas económicas para la alimentación.
A/HRC/33/32
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
08/04/2016

JAL
GBR 1/2016

Alleged negative impact of the Welfare Reform and Work Act on the human rights of persons living in poverty, particularly children, large families, single parents and persons with disabilities. According to the information received, the Welfare Reform and Work Act, enacted in March 2016, introduces major cuts in social benefits, including, inter alia, a lower cap on the household benefit, a four-year freeze on working-age benefits and tax credits, restrictions on child tax credits and reduced support for persons with disabilities in the Work-Related Activity Group. Concerns are raised that these changes have been introduced without adequate assessments of their impact on the rights to social protection and an adequate standard of living, and may contribute to a rise in poverty and inequality.
A/HRC/33/32
United States of America
05/04/2016

JAL
USA 2/2016

Alleged violations of the human rights of residents of Flint, Michigan, in the context of lead contamination of its water, including the rights to adequate housing, water and sanitation, and non-discrimination. According to the information received, water supplies in the city of Flint became contaminated with lead following the city’s decision in April 2014 to switch its water source to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure and its failure to put in place corrosion control measures to mitigate the levels of lead and copper in the water. Despite the emergence of evidence and studies that indicated an elevated level of lead in the water as well as in the blood of the children in Flint, the city insisted that its water supplies complied with all state and federal standards, failing to take immediate mitigation measures. It is further suggested that Flint residents, who are in majority Black or African American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities. A previous communication raising concerns about the water crisis in Flint was sent on 2 March 2016, see above, case no. USA 1/2016.
A/HRC/33/32
Colombia

11/03/2016

JUA
COL 2/2016

Allegations of individual human rights violations as well as specific concerns particularly affecting the Afro-Colombian community in the municipality of. Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca Department, Colombia. According to the information received, despite the increased presence of public security forces in Buenaventura since 2014, criminal organized groups continue to exercise strong social, economic and local control over the lives and activities of its inhabitants, including by implementing invisible frontiers and imposing curfews in some of the neighbourhoods. These groups are said to be responsible for various criminal activities such as extortion, death threats, murder, enforced disappearances, imposition of various types of punishments, sexual violence against women and girls, child recruitment and forced displacement and eviction, aimed at taking control of the territory and the different communities living in the urban area of Buenaventura.
A/HRC/33/32

Guatemala

19/02/2016

JAL
GTM1/2016

Carta enviada a las autoridades de Guatemala con el fin de alentar a las nuevas autoridades cumplir con cuarto sentencias del Juzgado de Niñez y Adolescencia del Departamento de Zacapa del 2013, centrales al derecho a la alimentación en Guatemala. Se alienta concluir a la brevedad posible los avances en la elaboración y aprobación del Protocolo de actuación para el ejercicio del derecho humano a la alimentación, en el marco del cumplimiento de estas sentencias.

10/05/2016

A/HRC/32/53
A/HRC/33/32 (reply)

Netherlands

25/02/2016

JAL
NLD1/2016

Letter in follow-up to the response received from the Government of the Netherlands on 9 July 2015 to a communication regarding the failure to provide emergency assistance to homeless migrants in an irregular situation. The letter argues that various forms of shelter provided to irregular migrants in the Netherlands, elaborated in detail in the Government’s reply, still fail to prevent them from becoming homeless. The letter sets out the Netherlands’ obligation under regional and international human rights law to provide a minimum essential level of the right to adequate housing as well as other related economic, social and cultural rights for all, including irregular migrants on its territory. The above-mentioned previous communication was sent to the Government of the Netherlands on 12 December 2014, see A/HRC/29/50, case no. NLD 1/2014. For the response of the Government of the Netherlands of 9 July 2015 to communication NLD 1/2014, see A/HRC/31/79.

 

A/HRC/32/53

Australia

13/01/2016

JAL
AUS 9/2015

Allegations concerning the negative impact of termination of accounts of Somali money transfer operators (MTOs) by commercial banks in Australia on the human rights of Somali-Australians and people living in Somalia who are dependent on remittances from Australia. According to the information received, the implementation and enforcement of domestic and international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation and regulations resulted in increasing and widespread closure of bank accounts of Somali MTOs in Australia. There are concerns that the closing of bank accounts of Somali MTOs and the accompanying reduction in the level of remittances to Somalia may have a direct and significant impact on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights of Somali-Australians as well as people living in Somalia, including the rights to equality, culture, food, education, health and life. Related communications were sent to the Governments of Somalia, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America on 13 January 2016, see below, case nos. SOM 2/2015, GBR 5/2015 and USA 21/2015.

17/03/2016

A/HRC/32/53

Somalia

13/01/2016

JAL
SOM2/2015

Allegations concerning the negative impact of termination of accounts of Somali money transfer operators (MTOs) by commercial banks in diaspora countries on the human rights of people living in Somalia who are dependent on remittances from these countries. According to the information received, the implementation and enforcement of domestic and international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation and regulations in diaspora countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, resulted in increasing and widespread closure of bank accounts of Somali MTOs. While the closure is largely influenced by the regulatory environment in the diaspora countries, it is also allegedly influenced by the current state of Somalia’s banking system. There are concerns that the closing of bank accounts of Somali MTOs and the accompanying reduction in the level of remittances to Somalia may have a direct and significant impact on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights of people living in Somalia, including the rights to food, education, health and life. Related communications were sent to the Governments of Australia, the United States of America and the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 13 January 2016, see above, case no. AUS 9/2015, and below case nos. GBR 5/2015 and USA 21/2015.

 

A/HRC/32/53

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

13/01/2016

JAL
GBR5/2015

Allegations concerning the negative impact of termination of accounts of Somali money transfer operators (MTOs) by commercial banks in the United Kingdom on the human rights of Somali-Britons and people living in Somalia who are dependent on remittances from the United Kingdom. According to the information received, the implementation and enforcement of domestic and international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation and regulations resulted in increasing and widespread closure of bank accounts of Somali MTOs in the United Kingdom. There are concerns that the closing of bank accounts of Somali MTOs and the accompanying reduction in the level of remittances to Somalia may have a direct and significant impact on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights of Somali-Britons as well as people living in Somalia, including the rights to equality, culture, food, education, health and life. Related communications were sent to the Governments of Australia, Somalia and the United States of America on 13 January 2016, see above, case nos. AUS 9/2015 and SOM 2/2015, and below, case no. USA 21/2015.

24/03/2016

A/HRC/32/53

United States of America

13/01/2016

JAL
USA21/2015

Allegations concerning the negative impact of termination of accounts of Somali money transfer operators (MTOs) by commercial banks in the United States on the human rights of Somali-Americans and people living in Somalia who are dependent on remittances from the United States. According to the information received, the implementation and enforcement of domestic and international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation and regulations resulted in increasing and widespread closure of bank accounts of Somali MTOs in the United States. There are concerns that the closing of bank accounts of Somali MTOs and the accompanying reduction in the level of remittances to Somalia may have a direct and significant impact on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights of Somali-Americans as well as people living in Somalia, including the rights to equality, culture, food, education, health and life. Related communications were sent to the Governments of Australia, Somalia and the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 13 January 2016, see above, case nos. AUS 9/2015, SOM 2/2015 and GBR 5/2015.

13/05/2016

A/HRC/32/53
A/HRC/33/32 (reply)

Bahrain

30/10/2015

JAL
BHR 6/2015

Alleged patterns of continuous discrimination against Shia citizens, including through cultural, economic, educational and social government policies in Bahrain since 2011. According to the information received, peaceful protestors and other Shia citizens have experienced excessive use of force during and after the protests of 2011, with Shia religious clergy being particularly targeted. Government violence has also led to the destruction of many Shia mosques and sites of religious and cultural significance and of other signs of Shia presence in the country. The official historical narrative which systematically undermines the role of Baharna and Shia religious and cultural heritage in the country is also promoted in the official school curricula and media. Shia citizens allegedly also experience discrimination in access to citizenship, public sector employment and government social policies, particularly housing and welfare programs, making them more vulnerable to poverty. Various aspects of this situation, including the destruction of two mosques and withdrawal of citizenship, have already been raised in previous communications sent on 5 may 2011, see A/HRC/18/51, case no. BHR 8/2011, and on 29 November 2012, see A/HRC/23/51, case no. BHR 12/2012.

25/12/2015
01/02/2016

A/HRC/31/79;  A/HRC/32/53 (reply)

Other
(UN Secretary General)

23/10/2015

JAL
OTH 7/2015

Letter sent in follow-up to the allegation letter transmitted to the United Nations Secretary General on 25 September 2014 concerning the cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2010. The letter expresses concern about the inability of the victims of the cholera outbreak to vindicate their rights and to obtain access to a remedy for the harms suffered to date. The letter urges the United Nations to provide the victims with access to a transparent, independent and impartial mechanism to review and decide on their claims in order to ensure adequate reparation. The first letter transmitted on 25 September 2014 is included in A/HRC/28/85, see case no. HTI 3/2014.

25/02/2016

A/HRC/31/79; A/HRC/32/53 (reply)

Republic of Moldova

28/05/2015

JAL
MDA 3/2015

 

Alleged failure to fully implement the Moldova Roma Community Action Plan.  According to the information received, the Government of Moldova has failed to place 48 Roma community mediators in 44 communities as originally envisaged by the Action Plan. The recent decentralization of the funding structure for the mediators has reportedly had the opposite effect and resulted in a decrease in the number of mediators engaged. The letter calls on the Government to fully implement the recommendations made by the former Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights following her country visit to Moldova in September 2013 and requests information on the development of a Roma Inclusion Action Plan for the next five-year period (2016-2020).

03/08/2015

A/HRC/30/27

United States of America

15/05/2015

JAL
USA 11/2015

Alleged large-scale disconnection of water services disproportionally affecting poor African-American or Black households in the city of Baltimore. According to the information received, the Department of Public Works of the City of Baltimore has started to disconnect water services for households who are six months or more in arrears of more than 250 USD providing only a ten-day notice. The City announced plans to disconnect about 150 household per day starting at the end of March 2015. The combination of high poverty rates and water and sanitation bills which have tripled since 2000 has made water increasingly unaffordable for a large number of households. The assistance programme, which offers 161 USD to certain low-income households, is reported to be insufficient and difficult to access because of procedural and documentation requirements. These disconnections affect several rights, including the right to life, to health, to housing, and to water and sanitation.

16/07/2015

A/HRC/30/27

Other
(Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe)

12/02/2015
                                      

JAL
OTH 2/2015

Letter addressed to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe concerning two recent decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) which found that the Netherlands had violated various provisions of the European Social Charter (Charter) by failing to provide adequate access to emergency assistance to irregular migrants. The letter underlines that the right to an adequate standard of living applies to anyone regardless of legal status and documentation, and urges the Committee of Ministers to adopt a recommendation endorsing the ECSR’s decisions calling on the Netherlands to take immediate steps to bring the situation in the country into full conformity with the Charter.

 

A/HRC/29/50

Guatemala

12/02/2015

JUA
GTM
1/2015

 

Alegaciones de reducción del salario mínimo que afectaría el derecho a un nivel de vida adecuado, incluyendo alimentación, vestido y vivienda, de trabajadores de manufactura. Según la información recibida,  la aprobación de varios Acuerdos Gubernamentales (471 a 474/ 2014) por parte del Organismo Ejecutivo introducirían un nuevo nivel de salario mínimo para la industria de manufactura ligera, dedicada a productos de exportación en cuatro municipios: Estanzuela (Zacapa), Masagua (Escuintla) y San Agustín Acasaguastlán y Guastatoya (El Progreso). Dicho salario mínimo sólo cubriría el 46 por ciento de la canasta básica de alimentos (CBA) y el 25 por ciento de la canasta básica vital (CBV), respectivamente. Se expresa preocupación por el hecho de que dicho salario mínimo estaría muy por debajo del nivel de ingresos suficientes para cubrir los gastos básicos de vida, lo cual pudiera indicar una violación prima facie del derecho de toda persona a un nivel de vida adecuado para ella y su familia.

13/03/2015

A/HRC/29/50

Netherlands

 

12/12/2014

JUA
NLD 1/2014

 

Allegations concerning the failure of the Government of the Netherlands to provide emergency assistance to homeless irregular migrants. According to the information received, the Government denies emergency assistance, such as food, clothing and shelter, to adult homeless irregular migrants. Recently, in two separate decisions, the European Committee of Social Rights found that the Netherlands was violating the European Social Charter by failing to provide adequate access to emergency assistance to irregular migrants. Although over 60 municipalities have requested the Government to provide them with temporary budget support to offer such assistance to irregular migrants and to temporarily halt their eviction from centres for asylum-seekers as a way of preventing more individuals from becoming homeless, the Government has refused to honour their requests. Concern is expressed that the Government reportedly still maintains that it is not under any obligation to provide emergency assistance for homeless migrants in an irregular situation, which contradicts international human rights law.

04/02/2015  09/07/2015

 

A/HRC/29/50

Argentina

20/08/2014

JAL
ARG 2/2014

Letter concerning the human rights impact of United States Court orders relating to litigation between investment funds and Argentina. Concern is expressed that the rulings may push Argentina into a debt crisis with negative implications for the economic, social and cultural rights of its people and may impede future debt restructurings. The letter argues that so-called “vulture fund” litigation, including the court orders secured by NML Capital Limited, prevents heavily indebted countries from using resources freed up by debt relief for their development and poverty reduction programmes, and therefore diminishes the capacity of these countries to create the conditions necessary for the realization of human rights for their people. Similar letters were sent to the Government of the United States of America on 20 August 2014, see case no. USA 15/2014 below, and to NML Capital Ltd on 20 August 2014, see case no. OTH 10/2014 below.

20/10/2014

A/HRC/28/85

Other

(NML Capital Ltd)

20/08/2014

JAL
OTH 10/2014

Letter concerning the human rights impact of United States Court orders relating to litigation between investment funds and Argentina. Concern is expressed that the rulings may push Argentina into a debt crisis with negative implications for the economic, social and cultural rights of its people and may impede future debt restructurings. The letter argues that so-called “vulture fund” litigation, including the court orders secured by NML Capital Limited, prevents heavily indebted countries from using resources freed up by debt relief for their development and poverty reduction programmes, and therefore diminishes the capacity of these countries to create the conditions necessary for the realization of human rights for their people. Similar letters were sent to the Government of Argentina on 20 August 2014, see case no. ARG 2/2014 above, and to the Government of the United States of America on 20 August 2014, see case no. USA 10/2014 below.

 

A/HRC/28/85

United States of America         

20/08/2014

JAL
USA
 15/2014

Letter concerning the human rights impact of United States Court orders relating to litigation between investment funds and Argentina. Concern is expressed that the rulings may push Argentina into a debt crisis with negative implications for the economic, social and cultural rights of its people and may impede future debt restructurings. The letter argues that so-called “vulture fund” litigation, including the court orders secured by NML Capital Limited, prevents heavily indebted countries from using resources freed up by debt relief for their development and poverty reduction programmes, and therefore diminishes the capacity of these countries to create the conditions necessary for the realization of human rights for their people. Similar letters were sent to the Government of Argentina on 20 August 2014, see case no. ARG 2/2014 above, and to NML Capital Ltd on 20 August 2014, see case no. OTH 10/2014 above.

14/10/2014

A/HRC/28/85

United States of America

24/06/2014

JUA
USA 9/2014

Allegations of unjustified disconnections of water services in Detroit. According to the information received, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been disconnecting water services from households who have not paid bills for two months, and has accelerated its pace from early-June by disconnecting 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. Because of a high poverty and unemployment rate, the increased costs of water and sanitation make them are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population. Voluntary funds have too little funding to support all households who cannot pay their water bills.

17/10/2014

A/HRC/28/85

How to file a complaint

Any person or group of persons claiming to be a victim or victims of violations and/or to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations may submit a complaint to the Special Rapporteur. In order for a complaint to be considered by the Special Rapporteur, the following information is required:

  • Who is the alleged victim(s) (individual(s), community, group, etc.); Please note that anonymous complaints are not considered. In principle, the names of the alleged victims are communicated to the concerned Governments and published in joint Communications Reports.
  • Who is the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation; Please provide substantiated information on all the actors involved, including non-state actors if relevant.
  • Identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the complaint (this information will be kept confidential); The identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential.
  • Date, place and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or the violation; Please set out the facts clearly and concisely and describe violations that have already occurred, that are ongoing or about to occur. The information should also indicate any actions taken at the national or regional level to seek remedies and any other relevant information. Please also indicate whether any part of the submitted information should remain confidential and not be published in the joint Communications Report of Special Procedures.
  • Express and informed consent of the alleged victim(s) Please provide evidence of the express and informed consent of the alleged victim (s) in case the complaint is submitted by another person or organization on behalf of the victim(s).

As a general rule, communications that contain abusive language or that are obviously politically motivated are not considered.

A complaint may be sent to the Special Rapporteur by:
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org;
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06; or
Post: OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Follow-up

Communications of the Special Rapporteur are confidential until they are published in the joint Communications Report of Special Procedures, submitted periodically to the Human Rights Council. The joint Communications Report also contains responses of the concerned Governments and other actors to the communications. It is important for the Special Rapporteur to receive updated and relevant information on the situations referred to in the complaints, so that he may continue following up on the issue through his dialogue with the concerned parties. Person(s) or organization(s) that have submitted information and complaints are urged to consider the responses of the concerned Governments and other actors and to submit their comments, if necessary, to the Special Rapporteur.

Also note that several other individual complaint mechanisms have been established as part of the international human rights system. For more information please visit the Special Procedures page and the Human Rights Bodies-Complaints Procedures page.


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