Forced evictions in Kazakhstan spark UN human rights expert’s concern

UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing Raquel Rolnik. UN Photo/Ryan Brown

13 September 2010 – A United Nations independent human rights expert today warned about the impact of forced evictions carried out in Kazakhstan to make way for large-scale development projects seeking to foster economic and social development.

Wrapping up a visit to the Central Asian nation today, Raquel Rolnik, the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, underlined that “forced evictions can only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances” and must be in line with international human rights law.

Urban renewal and city beautification schemes, including the construction of a modern, world-class capital city, have been at the heart of the country’s efforts to promote development, she noted.

The Government has sought to create an enabling environment for private construction companies, commercial banks and financial institutions, as well as promoting access to credit to enhance access to adequate housing for its citizens.

Large-scale development projects have drawn a large number of people from Kazakhstan’s poorest areas and abroad in search of job opportunities and a higher standard of living, while simultaneously depriving many of their homes and land.

As a result of the onset of the financial crisis, many families were evicted when they were unable to make their mortgage payments, while others were deceived by private construction companies who were unable to complete the work.

Ms. Rolnik, an unpaid expert who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, noted that the Kazakh Government has made efforts to complete the building of homes that had been slowed or came to a halt due to the economic slowdown.

“Nevertheless, many families are still waiting for their homes, and I encourage the Government to strengthen its efforts to find a long-term solution for affected households,” she said.

During her week-long visit to the country, the expert said that she called for an open dialogue among authorities, non-governmental organizations and affected households on access to adequate housing.

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