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UN Human Rights Expert Warns European Institutions that Their Austerity Policies Violate Human Rights

June 4, 2016 (EIRNS)—Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights for the UN Human Rights (UNHR) Council Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky has once again denounced both the Greek bailout policies as a violation of human rights, as well as the EU austerity policy throughout Europe. At a press conference in Brussels, Bohoslavsky denounced the European Union’s disproportionate emphasis on fiscal adjustment.

"I am concerned about a policy shift undermining the previously balanced approach of ensuring economic stability, equality and social cohesion, in favor of a disproportionate focus on budgetary stability," warned Bohoslavsky in a statement issued by the Office of the UN Human Rights High Commission yesterday.

"Poverty has been on the rise in one of the most affluent regions of the world," Bohoslavsky stressed. About 121 million people in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, the UNHR statement said: Their number has in particular increased in countries that underwent a financial crisis and structural adjustment, such as Greece and Spain.

"It is unlikely that the European Union will reach in 2020 its official target to reduce the number of people at-risk-of poverty and social exclusion by 20 million people," he said while noting that there are around 21.4 million unemployed persons in the EU, 4.7 million more than in 2008, before the financial crisis spread.

"It is unacceptable that some people do not have the ability to buy food, lose access to basic healthcare or are unable to have a roof over their head,"

said Bohoslavsky, an Argentine native. He underlined that upholding human rights was the responsibility of everyone, including financial institutions and EU member-states implementing fiscal adjustment programs."

Commenting on the Greek debt, he said that the proposals by the creditors were "too little too late." He said that it was widely accepted that a debt relief was necessary, adding that it was time for action in this direction. Bohoslavsky said the package of measures passed by the Greek government recently under the pressure of its lenders would have medium- and long-term effects on human rights in the country.

Issuing a strong warning Bohoslavsky said

"while member states of the European Union are primarily responsible for adherence to their international human rights obligations, international institutions, including the EU, its bodies and financial institutions are not beyond the reach of international human rights law.

"When making policy recommendations or setting binding conditionalities for providing loans, EU institutions and bodies have—at an absolute minimum—to respect international human rights treaties to which all their member states have become a party,"

Bohoslavsky underscored.

He denounced that fact that,

"when it comes to internal macroeconomic policies human rights standards are not explicitly used as benchmarks against which structural program reforms are assessed."

Bohoslavsky will present his final findings and key recommendations in a comprehensive report in March 2017.

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