An appointee to the United Nations Human Rights Council has issued a four-page memo warning Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson that local officials could be violating the human rights of the homeless people living within the city. In the January 23rd dated letter, Catarina De Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for the United Nations human right council, says that the current policy of evicting the homeless from their “tent cities” and denying the homeless with safe access to clean water is, in effect, prohibited discrimination based on their economic and social status.
Albuquerque reminded Johnson in her letter that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is a protected freedom pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an agreement which the US Government signed on October 5th, 1977. The United States also publicly declared that it was “proud to take the significant step of joining consensus” towards endorsing water and sanitation as a human right in September of 2010.
Albuquerque visited with the homeless in Sacramento back in 2011, and witnessed firsthand the difficulties they face within their community as they grapple to evacuate their bowels and bladders in a manner which does not rob them of their human dignity. Albuquerque met a homeless man named “Tim” who was responsible in his camp to collect bags full of human waste, some as heavy as 230 pounds, and haul them on his bicycle to a public restroom for disposal. Tim said he did this for his community, especially for the women, so that they did not foul the area in which they called home.
Albuquerque also lamented Johnson slogan of “a city that works for everyone”, and stressed that if that dream is to become a reality one day, the promotion of the human rights of homeless people should become an integral part of the city’s policies.
In September of 2011, Mayor Johnson missed a council meeting as he attended a sustainable energy forum at the United Nations in New York City. He sat with several business leaders, prime ministers, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and others during the conference.
Rumors have been flying that the Huffington Post has been working on a scathing report on the homeless situation in Sacramento.
You can read the entire Human Rights memo by clicking here.