20 July 2005
Paul Hunt, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (“the right to health”, and Miloon Kothari, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, issued the following statement today:
The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (“the right to health”) and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living express their profound concern over information received concerning the imminent eviction of residents living in Taiwan’s Lo-Sheng Sanatorium for individuals with leprosy.
Lo-Sheng Sanatorium, an area of 30-hectares, is located in Sinjhuang, Taipei County and was originally built in 1930. The sanatorium originally served as an isolation hospital for leprosy patients. However, in recent years the 300 residents of Lo-Sheng have benefited from a village-like, community way of life that allows for their independence in a quiet and peaceful environment. Many individuals without limbs have “scooters”, providing them access outdoors to enjoy the gardens surrounding the sanatorium.
The evictions were reportedly to take place on July 20, 2005 to allow for the creation of a Mass Rapid Transit System (“MRT”) by the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation. Residents of Lo-Sheng Sanatorium will allegedly be relocated to the Hui-Long Hospital.
The Special Rapporteurs urge the authorities to ensure that the human rights of people affected by leprosy are fully respected. In particular, they remind the authorities of their obligations under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, especially with regard to the right to health and the right to adequate housing. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has stated that "forced evictions are prima facie incompatible with the provisions of the Covenant and can only be carried out under specific circumstances".
The Special Rapporteurs urge the authorities to explore all feasible alternatives in consultation with the residents of Lo-Sheng Sanatorium. If no solution can be found that would allow residents to remain, legal remedies or procedures should be provided to residents that are affected by eviction orders, along with adequate compensation for any property affected, both personal and real. Any evictions that are considered justified should be carried out in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law and in accordance with the general principles of reasonableness and proportionality.