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Uruguay: UN expert calls for more action to protect elderly

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GENEVA (30 November 2018) – A UN human rights expert has commended the Uruguay Government for its significant advances in protecting the rights of the elderly, but called for the allocation of more resources, including financial, to consolidate their protection needs.

Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, welcomed the country’s leadership at a regional level in promoting and protecting the rights of the elderly. She acknowledged that Uruguay was the first country to ratify the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons, and that it had adopted the Second National Plan for Aging 2016-2019.

Uruguay is at an advanced stage of demographic transition, with almost 20 percent of its population aged over 60.

“While Uruguay has made exemplary advances at the normative and conceptual levels, it is regrettable that this commitment does not always translate into effective implementation of policies, because resources allocated to meet the needs of older persons are insufficient,” the UN Expert said at the end of her 11-day visit to the country.

“Similarly, Uruguay has the required institutional framework, particularly with the National Institute for Older Persons (INMAYORES) and the National Secretariat of Care, but insufficient means and resources impede the implementation of policies.”

Kornfeld-Matte expressed concerns about the lack of a comprehensive public health policy on dementia and mental health. “Older persons with dementia must have their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy respected at all stages of the disease and I urge the Government to ground action in these areas in human rights,” she said.

“I also call on the Government to continue the transition from a welfare approach, which associates old age with illness, isolation, loneliness, passivity and the loss of autonomy, to a rights-based approach, which recognises accumulated, capacities and resources of older persons.”

The UN expert called for increased efforts to recognise the work - mainly of women - in caring for relatives and loved ones, and to improve older people’s access to justice.

Kornfeld-Matte also expressed concerns about discrimination against the elderly, including in combination or intersection with other personal characteristics, be they gender, impairment, homelessness or African descent. She called for further measures to detect, report and prevent all forms of abuse in institutional care and in family settings, and for safeguards to be put in place to protect the elderly from financial exploitation and other forms of abuse or maltreatment.

During her visit, Kornfeld-Matte met with various representatives of Government authorities, academia and civil society as well as others working on the rights of older persons and older persons themselves. She will present her findings and recommendations of her country visit in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019.

ENDS

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing. She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontificia Unversidad Católica de Chile.

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.

UN Human Rights country page - Uruguay https://www.ohchr.org/en/countries/lacregion/pages/uyindex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact:
Mr. Khaled Hassine (before/after the visit + 41 22 917 9367; during the visit + 079 444 4355 / khassine@ohchr.org) or write to olderpersons@ohchr.org 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.