Advocacy update

Justice Initiative Contributes to UN Expert Report on Private Debt and Human Rights

Date
November 20, 2019
Contact
Jonathan Birchall
media@opensocietyfoundations.org
+1-212-547-6958

The Open Society Justice Initiative has contributed to the upcoming thematic report on private debt and human rights by the United Nations Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of states on the full enjoyment of human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.

Our submissions, published on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, pertain to the implementation of EU law and human rights protections for mortgage debtors in Ireland and Romania.

The comments, prepared in cooperation with local Irish and Romanian lawyers and civil society organizations, include illustrative case studies, legal analyses, and recommendations for both countries.

The submission on Ireland highlights the concern that Irish courts often fail to consider and respect human rights defenses available to borrowers in mortgage arrears under EU law. It notes that persons at risk of losing their homes are commonly unrepresented in court and have no fair access to justice or legal representation. It calls on Ireland to ensure effective access to social and affordable housing for everyone who is unable to access adequate and affordable housing in the market.

The comment on Romania underlines the fact that domestic courts are not enforcing consumer protection and human rights defenses applicable to people in mortgage distress under EU law, leading to the systemic violation of borrowers’ human rights in Romania. It takes note of the massive rates of default and the considerably high rate of forced execution procedures in the country. It recommends that the state bring domestic laws and courts in line with EU law obligations.

The report will be presented to the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council in early 2020.

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