Greece bailout fund must respect people's core rights, says expert

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 Some austerity measures may be incompatible with rights laws, says Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky. Photo: OHCHR

The austerity measures expected of Greece must not come at the cost of the Greek people's basic human rights, a leading rights expert said Wednesday.

The country is in the grip of a financial crisis which has left it unable to pay its debts and threatened its exit from the euro zone.

UN-appointed independent expert Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky said a bail-out deal was needed to avoid "a larger crisis" but Greece needs to choose its reforms with care, in case they run counter to international human rights law.

Daniel Johnson has more.

While the Greek parliament debates the austerity measures its international creditors expect to see before handing over a US$95 billion bailout, a leading human rights expert has warned of serious potential pitfalls.

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, a UN independent expert on the rights impact of foreign debt, said he hoped the deal on the table "will avoid a larger crisis in Greece".

But he insisted that any further reforms must respect what he called people's "core" rights to healthcare, food and social security.

And the independent expert underlined the "real legal risk" that some austerity measures could be "incompatible" with international rights law.

Bohoslavsky also expressed concern about reports of shortages of medicines and food in Greece.

In future crisis situations, the UN independent expert said it would make much more sense to assess loan repayments based on sustainable development issues, rather than as he put it, a "narrow financial perspective".

That would help to ensure the protection of the environment, human rights and social development, he said.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 0'59"

 

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