Austerity measures must respect equality, says Pillay

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has discouraged governments from slashing budgets and adopting measures that may “impact on the hard-won rights of their populations.”

She in particular discouraged them from adopting measures that may erode rights of “the most vulnerable, including minorities, migrants and the poorest sectors of society.”

Ms. Pillay reminded governments that “austerity measures must respect the principle of equality and scrupulously avoid discrimination.”

Austerity measures, Ms. Pillay said, should be accompanied by measures to mitigate the effect of the crisis on the most vulnerable. “In particular, there must be safety nets in key sectors such as health and education,” she said. “I am concerned that the already rancorous debate about migrants, refugees and minorities such as the Roma in some European countries, and elsewhere, may lead to further discrimination and marginalization as dominant groups look to secure their own futures and search for scapegoats.”

Ms. Pillay gave the example of Greece where “social tensions inflamed by the economic crisis have led to violent attacks on migrants, and allegations that anti-racism protestors suffered torture and ill-treatment at the hands of the police.”

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