NEW YORK (IDN) – A United Nations human rights expert has deplored the wave of ageist attacks in the wake of the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, including calls for age ceilings for the exercise of the right to vote, reports the UN News Service.
“We have seen a number of European national newspapers and social media outlets stigmatizing older persons as the scapegoats for Brexit and calling for restrictions on ‘grey’ votes,” said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. “General exclusions of the exercise of certain rights based on age are unacceptable under international human rights law,” she stressed.
The decision to leave the EU reportedly received strong support from voters over the age of 65. “One magazine even suggested that the pensioners’ right to vote should be taken away, just as their driver’s licenses are, after they reach certain age,” she noted.
Kornfeld-Matte warned that age-based discrimination may also be incorporated in laws and policies, such as those on job recruitment or legal capacity to exercise their rights. “Old age should not be misused to challenge a person’s political competence. The full respect of the equal right of all individuals in public life and decision-making is fundamental to a democratic society,” she pointed out.
“As societies worldwide are ageing, there is a need to invest more to build intergenerational solidarity and foster societies’ understanding of the valuable contribution of older persons,” Kornfeld-Matte concluded.
The UN Human Rights expert’s reprimand came within three weeks of the UN’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, prompting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stress that ending neglect, abuse and violence against older people is crucial as the international community continues to work together towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and fulfil their underlying pledge to leave no one behind.
“Abuse and violence directed at older people take many forms, including partner and stranger violence, psychological and emotional abuse and financial exploitation,” Ban said in his message to mark the Day.
“On this Day, I call upon Member States and civil society to strengthen their resolve and redouble their efforts to eliminate all forms of violence and abuse against older people,” he added, highlighting that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to end poverty and build a more sustainable world for all.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – observed annually on June 15 since it was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2011 – aims to spotlight the global social issues affecting elderly people. The commemoration also brings the attention of the international community on the safeguarding of older human beings from mistreatment and suffering. [IDN-InDepthNews – 6 July 2016]
Photo: Independent Expert on the enjoyment of All Human Rights by older persons Rosa Kornfeld-Matte. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
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