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ASIA: Interactive dialogue with the Special Procedures on the right to food and to adequate housing

date: March 10, 2009
document id: ALRC-COS-10-16-2009
HRC section: Item 3, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs the rights to food and to adequate housing

An Oral Statement to the 10th Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization with general consultative status

ASIA: Interactive dialogue with the Special Procedures on the right to food and to adequate housing

Thank you Mr. President,

Concerning housing, in South Korea on January 20th, 2009, five protestors and one policeman were killed in clashes when around 1500 policemen were sent to disperse some 50 protestors. They were demonstrating against the planned forced eviction, during the winter, without sufficient alternatives or compensation, of 127 remaining tenants in Yong-san, Seoul. Has the Special Rapporteur intervened with the government concerning this case and has she received any response? The ALRC is concerned that further forced evictions and repression will ensue, as approximately ten percent of the residential areas in Seoul alone are set to be redeveloped.

Concerning the right to food, the ALRC urges the Special Rapporteur to pay particular attention to the situation in India, which has amongst the highest populations of malnourished children in the world, despite having a food surplus. The National Family Health Survey of India estimates that in the State of Madhya Pradesh alone, 60% of the State’s 10 million children are malnourished. The ALRC has documented numerous cases of malnutrition and deaths from starvation in India’s rural lower caste communities. Many of those worst affected are landless peasants, who are forced to work as bonded labourers for landlords.

Has the Rapporteur communicated concerns to the government related to the protection of the right to food in a national land reform policy currently under discussion, or concerns about its failure to implement the law criminalizing caste-based discrimination and its failure to prevent widespread corruption, which are obstructing the public food distribution system and denying the right to food for millions in India?

In the Philippines, the enjoyment of the rights to adequate housing and food are being further challenged by the significant numbers of overseas Filipino workers returning to the country, having lost their jobs due to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, the failure to fully implement the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), under which landless farmers can obtain land to cultivate crops and build homes, means that at least 1.2 million hectares of land have yet to be distributed. Farmers that have sought to claim land have received threats and faced eviction. Protests have been met with violent repression by armed men employed by landlords, who operate with impunity. Since 1988, hundreds of land reform activists and farmers have been killed, either in such violent clashes or individual targeted extra-judicial killings.

Significant sections of this contentious land are owned by the family of President Arroyo’s husband in Negros province, or that of her secretary, Francisco T. Duque III, for example.

Separately, the distribution of discount cards enabling those in need to receive subsidised rice from the National Food Authority is discriminatory and being exploited for political gain.

The fighting in the southern part of the Philippines also threatens food supplies. Corn production in four provinces in Mindanao decreased by an estimated 70,000 hectares after fighting resumed in August 2008. Civilian evacuees are being refused food rations on the pretext that these may end up in the hands of the rebels. Have your mandates intervened concerning these issues with the government of the Philippines and is the government cooperating?

Thank you.

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Webcast video: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/conferences/unhrc/tenth/hrc090310am1-eng.rm?start=01:26:11&end=01:29:26

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