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U.N. Experts: Detroit’s Mass Water Shut-Off Violates Human Rights

HeadlineJun 26, 2014

A United Nations panel has voiced concern over Detroit’s mass shutdown of water to city residents behind on their monthly bills. Since March, the Detroit water authority has cut the water taps of around 3,000 residents per week over unpaid bills of two months or more. In some cases, families losing their water have had their children removed and placed in foster care. In a statement, experts with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights say the disconnection of water taps constitutes “a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” They add: “Because of a high poverty rate and a high unemployment rate, relatively expensive water bills in Detroit are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population. … The households which suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected.” The statement comes days after a coalition of human rights groups and Detroit activists submitted an appeal asking the United Nations to intervene.

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