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Widespread water shut-offs in Detroit prompt outcry from UN rights experts

This news story was published on June 25, 2014.
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faucet-with-running-waterDETROIT – Disconnecting water from people who cannot pay their bills is an affront to their human rights, a group of United Nations experts said today, amid reports of widespread water shut-offs in the United States city of Detroit for non-payment.

“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” the experts stated in a news release.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been disconnecting water services from households which have not paid bills for two months, and has sped up the process since early June, with the number of disconnections rising to around 3,000 customers per week. As a result, some 30,000 households are expected to be disconnected from water services over the next few months.

The news release noted that due to high poverty and unemployment rates, relatively expensive water bills in Detroit are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population.

Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, said that disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying.

“In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” she stated.

During her 2011 mission to the US, Ms. de Albuquerque encouraged the Government to adopt a federal minimum standard on affordability for water and sanitation and a standard to provide protection against disconnections for vulnerable groups and people living in poverty.

Leilani Farha, the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, voiced concern that children are being removed by social services from their families and homes because, without access to water, their housing is no longer considered adequate.

“If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African-Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the United States has ratified,” she noted.

Under international human rights law, it is the State’s obligation to provide urgent measures, including financial assistance, to ensure access to essential water and sanitation.

“The households which suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected,” the experts stressed.

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23 Responses to Widespread water shut-offs in Detroit prompt outcry from UN rights experts

  1. badpontiac Reply Report comment

    July 1, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Do like the EPA does –Krap in the hallways!

  2. badpontiac Reply Report comment

    July 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Did I not just read that we are sending 586 million dollars overseas for their expenditures ????

  3. joe mamma Reply Report comment

    June 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Pay your damn bills. Now it’s a human right to have water.???.. Pay for the wells..Pay for the treatment-pumping-distribution-upkeep on the valves/mains/hydrants/etcetcetc. You want water go down to the river with a bucket and get some… Liberal whiners

  4. Allen Reply Report comment

    June 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Doesn’t the UN have more important things to do than worry about city supplied water in Detroit. There are countries all over the world where people don’t have running water in their homes. You know what they do, they take buckets and walk to where the water is. I’m sure that there are ponds, lakes, and streams in Detroit. Get off your lazy ass and go get some. It costs a city to pump and purify water, which is paid for buy those who use it. No pay, no water.

    • Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

      June 25, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Ya, but we have 4 trillion dollars to spend to kill over a million Iraqi but none to spend for this.

      • maybe Reply Report comment

        June 25, 2014 at 11:45 pm

        geez get a life would ya

        • LVS Reply Report comment

          June 26, 2014 at 8:51 am

          @maybe-It is to damn bad we can’t declare war on the drugger’s. Just think of the money we would save if we shot them all.

          • LVS

            June 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm

            @Anonymous-Look who’s calling who ignorant. You have to be the dumbest individual I have ever run across. You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you. You are stupid even for a libraterd. You give new definition to the words ignorant and stupid.

          • Anonymous

            June 26, 2014 at 7:14 pm

            So your feeble response to me is by replying to your own post.
            That figures as you complelty oblivious to pretty much everything….what a twit.

            However LVS, I was in error for saying that you have been in the running for just being the biggest dumbass in Northern Iowa.
            I was mistaken.

            Without a doubt, the level of your “dumbassness” extends far beyond any geographical boundry.

            You are far and above, the dumbass’s supreme dumbass.

          • maybe

            June 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

            Hey LVS, got to admit that as wrong as he is, it is funny.

        • maybe Reply Report comment

          June 26, 2014 at 9:28 am

          It’s not just the druggies, it’s the whole democratic party. They all say the same thing, it’s all bush’s fault even as they find out recently that there was WMD’s in Iraq and that Iraq was the training ground for all terrorist organizations it’s still bush’s fault. I wish they would pull their head out of their azzes and pretend to be grownups and see what is actually going on. The BIGGEST terrorist organization in the entire world is the democratic party.

          • TurkeyVulture

            June 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

            maybe,…YOU have to be single-handedly the most ignorant, narrow-minded person I’ve ever heard or had the misfortune to hear speak anywhere/anytime(in my lifetime) on this planet.
            I’m sure glad I don’t know you personally. The drivel that comes from your mouth shows how much education you have.
            Anyone with any intellect whatsoever knows what a mistake it was going to Iraq. All the young lives lost while Bush and his counter-reject Cheney-draft-dodgers make money hand over fist off lost…

          • Dick Rahlf

            June 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm

            What were the weapons of mass destruction? Provide a link, not just your own retarded opinion. Are they still training terrorists in Iraq? Did spending 4 trillion “conservative estimate” solve the problem?

          • Anonymous

            June 26, 2014 at 6:20 pm

            maybe hears voices in his head and LVS has nothing in his head.

            It is a well known fact that the two of them are locked in a heated contest to determine which of them is the biggest dumbass in Northern Iowa.

            LVS has held the lead for quite some time due to the shear quantity of stupid, ignorant and downright idiotic comments.

            But maybe is closing the gap with his comments containing some of the most clueless, absurd and dim-witted beliefs.

            Right now, it’s a toss up.

          • maybe

            June 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm

            You guys only believe what they tell you to believe, I even saw the story on CNN about the WMD’s in Iraq so who is calling whom ignorant?

          • Dick Rahlf

            June 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm

            So you’re basing your proof on WMD’s off a cable news story before the war? Even CNN has apologized for all the crap they’ve aired. Let’s see a link to your proof, let me guess you do’t even have one.

          • maybe

            June 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

            Hey ignoramus, this story has been all over the internet and news because ISIS took control of the base in Iraq that houses the WMD’s and this was last week.

          • Dick Rahlf

            June 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

            OK let’s try this ONE more time. Link?

          • maybe

            June 26, 2014 at 9:10 pm

            Apparently we cannot post any links here, I posted 7 of them and when I hit post comment they all disappeared. I guess you will have to do your own dirty work, just google ISIS and WMD’s and you will have pages full.

          • JustHadtoSayIT

            June 26, 2014 at 11:52 pm

            @maybe…Being a loyal fan of CNN that I was during “Desert Storm 1”. I can verify that CNN had never claimed then that WMD’s did actually exist. It was only thought to be by the United States gov’t before the war. After the war, CNN repeatedly announced that nowhere in Iraq were WMD’s ever found!

          • maybe

            June 26, 2014 at 11:55 pm

            You guys just don’t get it. ISIS is taking over Iraq as I type this, it was last week that they found the biological weapons not during the war.

          • Iowa Sucks

            June 27, 2014 at 1:25 am

            Let me get this straight. You claim Iraq had biological weapons and so we had to spend 10 years and 4-6 trillion dollars and kill a million Iraq and spend 1000’s of American lives to go get them and we didn’t get them? So all this was for nothing? Perhaps they were brought in after the fact.

            So your position is that it was all worth it? That we should spend another 4 trillion and another ten years and still not get them? If we failed the first time why would it work next time?


          • maybe

            June 27, 2014 at 8:40 am

            You people are all frikken brain dead. You must have a pitiful life if all you have to look forward to is either fighting with me and LVS or putting words in my mouth. All I said was that they found WMD’s in Iraq, PERIOD. That’s all I am saying, whatever else you guys are reading into this is all in your own heads.