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Cabo Verde must prioritise housing for the poorest, UN rights expert urges

Portuguese version

PRAIA / GENEVA (26 January 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and non-discrimination Leilani Farha on Monday called on the Government of Cabo Verde to prioritise measures to ensure the poorest members of society can have affordable, adequate housing.

Ms. Farha, speaking at the end of an official visit to Cabo Verde, noted the positive steps taken by the Government to address the inadequate supply and inadequate conditions of housing in Cabo Verde. These include the adoption of several national level housing laws, policies and programmes, among them the national system for social housing.

“While these measures are highly commendable, my preliminary findings strongly suggest that they are not adequately assisting many of the poorest individuals and families, particularly those living in informal settlements. I also noticed gaps in national programmes to address the housing needs of people with disabilities, and of women and children experiencing violence,” the human rights expert said.

The Special Rapporteur visited several informal settlements on the Islands of Santiago, Sal and Sao Vicente. During her visit (19-26 January) she met many national and local government officials as well as community organisations and residents.

“I met women and young girls who spoke of the indignity and humiliation they experience having to bathe and defecate in public spaces, due to lack of water and sanitation facilities,“ said Ms. Farha. “In addition, many of the homes I visited are only partly constructed, or built very precariously.  People find themselves living literally without a roof over their head to protect against dust, wind or rain.” 

“I commend Cabo Verde for having ratified all the relevant international human rights treaties to protect the right to adequate housing. Now it’s time to strengthen relevant policies and programmes to ensure those rights become reality,” the independent expert said.  “As I stress in my upcoming report to the UN Human Rights Council, municipalities can play a key role in implementing the right to adequate housing, and Cabo Verde is no exception. However, for municipalities to be able to do this, they need sufficient resources” Ms. Farha stated.

During her visit to Cabo Verde, the expert met senior officials from ministries and other state institutions, Members of Parliament, the Ombudsman, the National Commission for Human Rights, city mayors and elected local government officials, UN officials, NGOs, and individuals and families. Her final report, including findings and key recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement:

English: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15511&LangID=E
Portuguese (unofficial translation):
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Housing/PressStatementCaboVerdeJan2015_Portuguese.pdf

ENDS

Leilani Farha (Canada) is the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. She took her function in June 2014. Ms. Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada Without Poverty, based in Ottawa, Canada. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Ms. Farha has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups and on the situation of people living in poverty. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. For more information check: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Cabo Verde: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CVIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Praia (during the visit):
Juana Sotomayor- Human Rights Officer- OHCHR-(+41 79 109 68 73 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org)
Anita Pinto- Communication Officer- UN Resident Coordinator Office Cabo Verde (+ 238 26096 00 – Cel: (+ 238) 991 45 55/ anita.pinto@one.un.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 917 9445 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) or write to srhousing@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to UN independent experts:
Liz Throssell, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)  or Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)