Housing rights award for Rachel Corrie

A new global honour – The Housing Rights Defender Award – has gone to Rachel Corrie, the US activist killed in Gaza while fighting for Palestinian rights.

    Israeli bulldozers have torn down many Palestinian homes

    Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in March while protesting against the demolition of a Palestinian dwelling.


    In other awards by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) announced in Geneva on Wednesday, Indonesia, Guatemala and Serbia-Montenegro shared the honours for failing to address a massive problem of homelessness and slums.


    Scotland was praised for its "rare" protection of the right to housing.




    COHRE launched the annual Housing Rights Awards in 2002 to focus attention on the plight of more than one billion people worldwide who it said live in slums and some 100 million people who are homeless on any given night.


    "Although few governments have done enough ... this year Indonesia, Guatemala and Serbia-Montenegro stand out for their appalling disregard for housing rights"

    Scott Leckie,
    executive director, COHRE

    "Although few governments have done enough to enforce the widely-recognised right to housing, this year Indonesia, Guatemala and Serbia-Montenegro stand out for their appalling disregard for housing rights," said COHRE's executive director, Scott Leckie said in Geneva on Wednesday.


    The group chose Indonesia from a short list of about 15 countries because, it alleged, the government had allowed the violent eviction of people from cities and was guilty of housing-related crimes in the provinces of Aceh and Papua.


    Guatemala was given the Housing Rights Violator Award because it had ignored various rights to housing and land, according to COHRE.


    Roma discrimination


    Serbia-Montenegro "continues to discriminate severely against the Roma, many of whom live in conditions far worse than many of the most horrendous slums found in the developing world," Leckie said in a statement.


    Last year 10 countries won the dishonourable title, including the United States, and Leckie hoped some had been shamed into tidying up their act.   


    In contrast, the Scottish Executive won the Housing Rights Protector Award for the adoption of a new law - the Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003 - which aims to open more doors to people without a roof over their head.


    This award  is to highlight "a government that has taken housing rights seriously, which is often rare," he added.


    Pakistan and Croatia - two other winners in 2002 - had conducted much closer talks on the issue with COHRE as a result of being blacklisted.


    "Hopefully that has trickled down to the local level and made a difference to some of the two billion people in the world who don't have housing rights," Leckie continued.



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