Still In Violaton

Posted: June 15, 2008 in Civil Rights, Government, Homelessness

On 7 June 2007, Maria Foscarinis, the Executive Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, appeared before the UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights to report the failure of the U.S. Federal Government to address the needs of its homeless population.

The written report, Homelessness and United States Compliance with Human Rights Obligations, which Ms. Foscarinis submitted as part of her testimony outlined numerous violations on part of the U.S. Government with respect to three specific International Human Rights Treaties to which the United States is a signatory.  

By becoming a signatory, a nation obligates themselves to adhere to and comply with these treaties. One year later, the U.S. has failed to bring themselves into compliance with their obligations.

Considering that the U.S. has continued to violate International Human Rights treaties, with respect to it homeless, is it any wonder that so many other nations throughout the world are pointing their fingers at us in accusation of hypocrisy?

When local municipalities, such as Dallas, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada and Orlando, Florida prohibiting the feeding of the homeless in pubic areas, they are in violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty.

When local governments do not fail to allocate funding to provide sufficient numbers of shelter beds in their communities and yet pass ordinances which prohibit or limit the homeless from sleeping, camping or sitting in public places – that is a direct violation of Article 26 of the same treaty.

When, on 19 January 2007, local law enforcement in St Petersburg, Florida used box cutters and knives to destroy the tents of homeless – even though some of those tents still had residents inside – and then took the personal belongings and the destroyed tents and threw them into dumpsters, that was a violation of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture and Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

If we expect to find a way of reducing the numbers of homeless in our communities, the first step will be to stop violating the human rights of the homeless and begin recognizing that the homeless have the same rights that the rest of us do.

  1. papahere says:

    Michael…I think there are many communities in the US who feel the best way to “rid” themselves of the homeless is make their survival unbearable with the hope they will move to another community…in other words let them know they are unwelcome and these steps can be harsh and inhuman…I am very impressed with MLK approach of passively holding up a mirror to the public so this type of cruel behavior can be seen by everyone. ~ Papa

  2. michael says:


    It is unfortunate that there are indeed so many communities which use these types of tactics as a method of addressing homelessness… sadly however, these tactics seldom work, and in the end additional human suffering is the only result.

    – m –

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