Monday, August 07, 2006

Hurricane Katrina and Violations of ICCPR Articles 6 and 26

Introduction
1. Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast area of the United States on August 29, 2005. The resulting floods, deaths, displacement, and humanitarian crisis made this hurricane one of the most devastating the United States has ever experienced. The public watched on their televisions as death and destruction unfolded in New Orleans and its surrounding areas. The question asked by nearly every viewer during those days was, “if the media can get there, why can’t any assistance? Why are these people dying?” The fact was that assistance could reach the people of New Orleans. It simply didn’t.
2. Although death and destruction was inevitable given the magnitude of this hurricane, a great many deaths were a direct result of the State party’s failure to provide adequate evacuation plans, evacuation assistance, and humanitarian aid. These failures constitute a violation to the State’s obligation under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “Covenant”) to protect, and fulfill the right to life. Further, the failure of the State party to provide appropriate remedies to the victims of article 6 violations constitutes a separate violation under article 2, paragraph 3 of the Covenant.
3. In addition to violations of the right to life, the State party also violated article 26 by violating the principle of non-discrimination in the way it prepared for Hurricane Katrina. The State party’s evacuation plans discriminated on the basis of property ownership, which resulted in discrimination based on race.
(Links added)

The statement is subtitled "A Response to the Third Periodic Report of the United States of America," which seems to have failed to address Katrina-related human rights issues in the course of a detailed account of the U.S. actions relevant to each of the articles of the ICCPR.

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