17 October 2009
Amnesty International Philippines
Amnesty says people’s powerlessness makes them poor
Poverty is the world’s worst human rights crisis said Amnesty International Philippines (AIPh) in a press release for the World Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
“Poverty traps people in a vicious cycle of deprivation, insecurity, exclusion and voicelessness. And no region of the world is immune to it and this is true in the Philippines,” declared Dr. Aurora Corazon Parong, Section Director of AIPh.
Amnesty International statistics also mention that all over the world, 963 million people go to bed hungry every night, 1 billion people live in slums, one woman dies every minute in pregnancy and childbirth, 1.3 billion people have no access to basic healthcare, 2.5 billion people have no access to adequate sanitation services, and 20,000 children a day die as a result. Poor people’s lack of representation prevents them from getting even the most basic rights.
“When poor people have no voice, they are unable to hold governments accountable and invest in the empowerment of people living in poverty. We must make sure that the poor peoples’ voices are heard. And stop trivializing poverty as primarily about economics and income levels. Poverty is about powerlessness and about voices remaining unheard.” said Parong.
The book “The Unheard Truth” authored by Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Irene Khan, speaks of the deprivation experienced by the poor when they are denied of their rights. Access to clean water, basic shelter, health care and education are all internationally recognized rights, to which most of the governments in the world have made a commitment to. Amnesty International argues that the foremost challenge for governments is empowerment, not merely increasing the levels of income of poor people.
“Human rights provide an empowering framework for the rights holders, for people living in poverty. Human rights is also an accountability framework for duty holders, the government and non-state actors. The participation of poor communities is essential not only to tackle deprivation of basic rights and to regain dignity and a sense of self worth. The participation of people living in poverty is essential for their general development as humans.” Parong elaborated.
A significant portion of people living in poverty belong to minority or marginalized communities such as the indigenous peoples who are discriminated on grounds of ethnicity. Discrimination due to gender, sexuality and disability are also common occurrences in the Philippines. They are trapped in poverty since they do not have access to resources and opportunities available to others.
Parong further said that when discrimination works to exclude certain groups from the benefits of development, economic growth does not help eliminate poverty. This is not to argue against economic growth, but to stress that economic growth alone is a fragile response to poverty, as the recent financial crisis has shown.
“Poor people live in fear, not only of disease and hunger, but also of guns and goons, police brutality, family violence, armed conflict and natural disasters. People living in slums face multiple threats – poverty and lack of public services, violence from drug gangs and the police. Corruption thrives in situations of organized crime and poverty.” Added Parong
Amnesty International’s global campaign to Demand Dignity aimed at ending human rights violations that keep people poor requires accountability of state and non-state actors, at the national, regional and international level. The campaign also demand equal access of people living in poverty to rights, services and justice and the active participation of people living in poverty in public affairs, in processes that impact on them and in finding solutions.
The Demand Dignity campaign exposes and opposes poverty-related human rights violations. It seeks to achieve concrete policy and practical changes needed to hold duty-bearers accountable for violations that contribute to and exacerbate poverty.
“Amnesty International demands global and local leadership for human rights. The global and local mockery of human rights by governments is perhaps the most potent and urgent reason why global and local leaders must change. By holding governments to account, we are starting at the top, demanding a new kind of leadership to end poverty, demanding dignity.” Concludes Parong.
For inquiries please contact:
National Secretariat: Mei Orias, Media Coordinator at 09178858634
Cagayan de Oro City: Ritz Lee Santos III, Member at 09209380692
Zamboanga City: Francis Rodolfo Marcial Jr., Secretary, Board of Trustees at 09267425285
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