UN: Greek austerity measures could violate human rights
UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Thursday warned that the Greek austerity measures and structural reforms may result in violations of basic human rights.
According to Cephas Lumina, UN expert on foreign debt and human rights, the implementation of a second package of austerity measures which includes a wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and assets is likely to have a serious impact on the Greek population’s basic rights.
The UN independent expert, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council, urged Greece to find the balance between austerity and the realization of human rights, particularly in the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as the poor, elderly, unemployed and persons with disabilities.
“The rights to food, water, adequate housing and work under fair and equitable conditions should not be compromised by the implementation of austerity measures,” added Lumina.
The warning came as the Greek Parliament passed a series of reforms to facilitate the implementation of the new series of austerity measures, aimed at securing a second loan from the European Union.
“Debts can only be paid out of income. A shrinking economy cannot generate any revenue and contributes to a reduced capacity to repay the debt. More time should have been allowed for the restructuring measures already in place to work,” Lumina said.
However, the Greek government is determined to secure a new 12 billion Euro ($17 billion) bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consolidate its troubled finances and avoid bankruptcy as the first one failed to stabilize its financial system.
This week, the Parliament voted to approve the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategic Program and the necessary reforms despite the opposition from citizens who have staged a series of protests in the capital Athens and in other parts of the Mediterranean country.
The new set of austerity measures approved by the Parliament included tax hikes, wide-ranging reforms and accelerated privatizations. The approval of program was fundamental for securing a new EU bailout agreement.
“Tax rises, public expenditure cuts and privatization measures have to be implemented in such a way that they do not result in unbearable suffering of the people,” remarked the UN independent expert.
Lumina also called on the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank (ECB) to remain aware of the human rights impact of the policies they design in attempting to resolve the financial crisis in Greece.
“There will be no lasting solution to the sovereign debt problem if the human rights of the people are not taken into account,” Lumina concluded.
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