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New UN rights expert calls for action on UN World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

15 June 2014

GENEVA (15 June 2014) – The newly appointed United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, calls on all Governments to strengthen laws and policies and adopt effective prevention strategies to protected elderly people in all societies from physical and psychological abuse, including neglect, on occasion of the UN World Elder Abuse Awareness Day*.

“It is time that we break the taboo. The World Health Organization estimates that between 4 and 6 per cent of older persons worldwide have suffered from a form of elder abuse — physical, emotional, and even financial abuse. The global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025.

As older persons are often afraid to report cases of maltreatment to family, friends, or to the authorities and many cases remain unaddressed, emerging research suggests that abuse, neglect and violence against older persons, both at home and in institutions, are much more prevalent than currently acknowledged.

Such abuse is an unacceptable attack on human dignity and human rights.

All human beings have the right to age with dignity, respected by their families and communities, free of neglect, abuse and violence. States have an obligation to ensure that elderly people in all societies be protected from physical and psychological abuse, including neglect.

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I therefore call on all Governments to ensure that laws and policies are enforced and to devise effective prevention strategies to address all aspects of this under-acknowledged social, public health and human rights issue.”

(*) In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 15 June as the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is marked annually.

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by 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. As a mandate holder, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte is independent from any government or organisation, and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, visit:

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