United Nations experts said Wednesday that Detroit’s decision to cut off water to residents who haven’t paid their bills may violate international human rights.
The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights put out a press release from Geneva citing three experts in response to reports that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is cutting off water access to thousands of residents in the city.
“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, identified as an expert on the human right to water and sanitation.
“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.”
The U.N. experts said international human rights law requires governments to take urgent measures, including financial assistance, to ensure access to essential water and sanitation.
“The households which suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected,” the U.N. statement said.