In many countries persons experiencing homelessness, living in poverty or situation of vulnerability continue to be disproportionately subjected to fines, deportation, arbitrary arrest, or detention for petty offences or conduct that is necessary to survive, such as informal street vending, waste collection, sex work, begging, sleeping, cooking or eating in public places. Persons who are unable to pay fines for petty offences, such as riding public transport without a valid ticket, continue to be imprisoned in many countries. Such sanctions do not only raise human rights concerns; they also congest the criminal justice system with issues that should be better addressed by other policies tackling the root causes of homelessness or poverty.
In 2024, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing will present a joint report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to take stock of efforts made to decriminalize poverty or homeless-related offences. They invite States, local Governments, UN agencies, regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, experts, civil society organizations to make further submissions or send updated information. Deadline for submissions is 15 September 2023.
Photo: UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré