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Brazil off-course for World Cup and Olympics – UN housing expert

GENEVA (26 April 2011) – As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, said Tuesday she has received many allegations concerning displacement and evictions potentially leading to violations of human rights.

The allegations concern different cities including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Recife, Natal and Fortaleza. “I am particularly worried about what seems to be a pattern of lack of transparency, consultation, dialogue, fair negotiation, and participation of the affected communities in processes concerning evictions undertaken or planned in connection with the World Cup and Olympics,” said the Special Rapporteur.

“I am also concerned about the very limited compensation offered to the communities affected, which is even more striking given the increased value of real estate in locations where building is taking place for these events. Insufficient compensation can result in homelessness and the formation of new informal settlements,” she added.

Ms. Rolnik said numerous evictions have already been executed without the families concerned being given sufficient time to propose and discuss alternatives, and without adequate plans for relocation. “Insufficient attention is being given to access to infrastructure, services and means of subsistence in relocation sites,” she said.

Illustrative cases include Belo Horizonte, where some 2,600 families are threatened with eviction; Rio de Janeiro, where many communities are under threat from projects linked to both the World Cup and the Olympics, and where many families were already evicted in December 2010; and Sao Paulo, where even more communities are threatened with eviction under city beautification and development projects. For example, thousands of families have already been evicted in relation to a project known as “Água Espraiada”, with a further ten thousand families facing a similar fate.

“I call on federal, state and municipal authorities involved in World Cup and Olympics projects to engage in a transparent dialogue with Brazilian society, particularly with the sectors of the population directly affected,” the Special Rapporteur said. “With the current lack of dialogue, negotiation and genuine participation in the design and implementation of World Cup and Olympics projects, the authorities at all levels should put a stop to planned evictions until dialogue and negotiation can be ensured,” she added.

“The Government should adopt a ‘Legacy Plan’ to ensure the holding of the World Cup and Olympic Games has a positive social and environmental impact and avoids violations of human rights, including the right to adequate housing. This is a fundamental requirement to guarantee that these two mega-events promote respect for human rights and leave a positive legacy in Brazil,” she concluded.

END

Raquel Rolnik (Brazil) was appointed as 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 by the UN Human Rights Council, in May 2008. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. An architect and urban planner, Rolnik has extensive experience in the area of housing and urban policies.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Brazil:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Beatrice Quadranti (Tel: +41 22 917 9615 / e-mail: bquadranti@ohchr.org) or write to srhousing@ohchr.org)