Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rio Olympics linked to Human Rights Abuses

The 2016 Olympics have prompted widespread violations of children’s rights and other civil liberties, according to a new dossier of alleged abuses compiled by academics and nongovernmental organisations.
Children in one of the largest favela complexes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thousands are being displaced ahead of 2016 Olympics and losing access to social services. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Evictions, police violence and poor labour conditions top a long list of problems linked to next year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro, claim the coalition of activists led by the Comité Popular who are calling on the International Olympic Committee to pay greater heed to human rights.
Their report – Exclusion Games – claims that at least 4,120 families have lost their homes and another 2,486 are threatened with removal as a result of infrastructure projects associated with last year’s World Cup and the upcoming Olympics. As a result, they say, thousands of children have been displaced and left – at least temporarily – unable to access education, healthcare and other social services.
The dossier claims other youths have been the victims of an uptick in police and army violence as a result of a struggling favela pacification program that is part of the city’s efforts to prepare for mega-events. Some have been shot and killed, many wounded and countless others psychologically scarred by gunfights and tension.
Terre des Hommes, the NGO that contributed the chapter on children, has produced video testimonies from some of those affected, including Naomy, a 12-year-old girl who sees swaths of her community Vila Autódromo demolished to make way for the Olympic Park, and Gabriel, a 13-year-old boy who was hit by a bullet while playing marbles after the army moved in to the Complexo da Maré favela complex ahead of the World Cup.
The report cites earlier studies by Brunel University, which found that risks of child exploitation – particularly with regard to labour and eviction – increased during previous mega sporting events such as the South Africa World Cup in 2010.
It also includes more recent research by Dundee University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro into the impact of the World Cup on local children. Among many concerns, it noted the disappearances of several street children who were removed from the streets in “social cleansing” operations ahead of major events.
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