3 UN Experts Agree: Cutting Off Water Violates Detroiters' Rights
Activists in Detroit appealed to the United Nations to stop the city’s plan to disconnect water service to thousands of households that have fallen behind on their water bills. The activists argued that cutting off water would be a human rights violation. This week, three UN officials agreed with their argument:
Three U.N. experts responded Wednesday that the shutoffs could constitute a violation of the human right to water.
“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying,” human right to water and sanitation expert Catarina de Albuquerque said in a statement issued from the United Nations in Geneva. “In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.” [AP]
de Albuquerque and the UN have no direct enforcement power over the water company, but their solidarity strengthens the activists’ claim that cutting off water to those who legitimately cannot pay is a human rights abuse.
[Photo credit: Detroit fire hydrant, by Carl Ballou, Creative Commons]