From the "Homelessness Law Blog"
On October 28, I had the opportunity to participate in a groundbreaking meeting between U.N. officials; leaders of NGOs; and members of the U.S. State Department, Department of Justice (DOJ), and HUD to discuss the criminalization of homelessness and poverty and its human rights implications, as well as strategies for opposing such policies.
The meeting, organized by the Law Center, was in response to a U.N. report documenting how criminalization practices in the U.S. and other countries violate internationally recognized human rights standards. As the Program for Human Rights and the Global Economy fall fellow at the Law Center, I was thrilled to take part in such an important meeting
The criminalization report, presented to the U.N. in October, identified four major human rights violations:
- Control of behavior of people in public spaces. For example, the criminalization of panhandling, eating, and sleeping.
- Discriminatory urban planning and zoning regulations. For example, there is an increasing trend of moving homeless and poor people to the outskirts of cities.
- Excessive and arbitrary restrictions on qualifying for public benefits. The U.S. has implemented a severe public benefits screening process, with the stated goal of avoiding fraud.
- The use of detention in punishing homeless and poor people. The criminal justice system has a disproportionate effect on certain communities.
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