Paraguay denies respect to older persons in the Americas
The 45th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons. This Convention, the first in the world to protect the rights of the elder people, is the result of a Mercosur initiative. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, along with Chile, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, have signed it. However, Paraguay and Panama, that also were involved in the drafting process and had committed to signing, gave in to the lobbying of fundamentalist groups and finally refused to sign it.
Once again, these groups, that pretend to stand for the right to life, force people to live under intolerable conditions. Why are they against the Convention? Which rights do the fundamentalists believe that older persons should not have?
- Not being subjected to prolonged physical restraint (that is, the right not to be immobilized o confined against their will)
- Not being forced to undergo inadequate or disproportionate medical treatments
- Being spared from unnecessary suffering and futile medical interventions
- Expressing their informed consent and seeing their will respected in all and every situation that affect them.
Anti-rights groups, with the complicity of Paraguay and Panama, want to force elder persons in the Americas to endure what, if applied to any other population, it would be undoubtedly considered torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Those who oppose the Convention are calling it ¨repetitive¨ and argue that it consecrates “special rights”. It could be argued that every human being, every human right and fundamental freedom is indeed already protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core international and regional treaties, as they make it clear that protections are to be applied “without discrimination whatsoever”. However, in practice, rights and protection have been and continue to be denied to people on the basis of their skin colour, their nationality, their occupation, their gender, their sexuality and their age. Only too often older persons are considered to be in need of “care” and not respect, forced back into the status of children with others knowing what is best for them. This is why, in order to be truly universal, rights need to be specific – to spell out what basic protections mean for each and every group that has been historically discriminated against.
Paraguay and Panama have chosen to condemn our elders to not be able to decide how and when they want to die. Many of us are likely to become older persons. We want to grow old as we have lived, with dignity and with the capacity to decide about our lives. And we want those who are older persons today to see their decisions respected by the States.
As human rights activists we are – truly – pro-life activists. We are for a life that is fully lived. This is why today we celebrate the passing of the Convention and congratulate Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Uruguay for defending the rights of older persons. As we learned from the disabled persons’ movement, nothing for us without us. Nothing for older persons without the informed consent of older persons.
LGBT Coalition of Activism in the Americas – Press Release
LA Campaign for a Sexual and Reproductive Rights Convention
June 16, 2015
For further contact, call Stefano Fabeni at 312 919 3512