Brazil's Prosecutor-General Raquel Dodge said that one of the biggest challenges in what she termed “the worst water crisis” facing the country is the lack of a legal definition of access to water as a fundamental right.
“There is a legal factor to the water crisis, stemming from the lack of a definition of access to water—first because the human right to water hasn't been established. The law has governed other aspects of people's relation to water, like ownership, use, and access control, but not the right to water,” Dodge argued.
Dodge spoke Monday (Dec. 11) at the opening ceremony of the international seminar entitled Water, Life, and Human Rights, organized by the National Prosecution Service Council, chaired by Dodge herself. The event comes as preparation for the World Water Forum, to take place next March in Brasília, seat of the Brazilian government.
“The laws protecting water resources are little known and set forth in such a way as to essentially protect ownership and access control, but not to expand right to water,” Dodge remarked, further advocating the inclusion of access to water in the list of human rights in Brazilian law, next to the right to life, health care, and freedom of speech, for instance.
Brazil's prosecutor-general also urged judges, prosecutors, and public defenders to more harshly punish those who break river protection laws. “The law must have not only a repressive effect, but also inhibitory,” she argued.
Another topic to be debated at the seminar, slated to end tomorrow (12), is the legal treatment given to the natural disaster in Mariana, Minas Gerais, which led to the collapse of the Doce river basin, Brazil's fifth most important basin.
Two years after Samarco's dam burst, releasing millions of cubic meters of ore waste, no individual was held accountable for the tragedy, and the criminal case was suspended for over four months, and resumed only this month.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira
Fonte: Brazil's prosecutor-general advocates access to water as fundamental right