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NEWS: Occupy Regina says access to sanitation a human right

CKOM News Talk 650 reports, “In an e-mail to News Talk Radio, (Occupy Regina) organizers say they will be demanding an apology from the city. A portable toilet donated by the Council of Canadians was recently removed and the protestors are arguing access to sanitation should be a human right. …The protesters tell News Talk Radio they plan on staying. They will be meeting at city hall on Wednesday at noon.”

The Regina Leader Post adds, “The City of Regina has officially asked Occupy Regina protesters to shut down their camp. …The city also took away the portable toilet that was donated to the protesters last week by the Regina Chapter of the Council of Canadians. Flaman said the reason it was taken away was because it was illegally placed. ‘There was no permission granted to have a portable toilet in the park’, said (the city’s manager for bylaw enforcement Dwayne) Flaman.”

“Occupy Regina spokesman Daniel Johnson said he is extremely upset by the city’s decision to remove the portable toilet. ‘They’re saying that there’s some kind of health violation having a porta-potty there’, said Johnson. ‘We’re going to end up with a health violation with this many people using a small camp toilet.’ Johnson said not having access to a portable toilet was a high inconvenience, especially for younger members of the group. He said the camp toilet fills up quickly. ‘I don’t think the city hall wants us all going in the alleys behind businesses after the bar closes at 2 a.m. or whatever,’ said Johnson, adding the portable toilet was right across Scarth Street from O’Hanlon’s. ‘We’re trying to have a positive relationship with local businesses and it’s like the city is definitely getting in the way of that by doing this.'”

On November 3, the Regina Leader Post reported, “(Occupy Regina) protester Stella Rogers said a challenge is finding a place to go to the bathroom at night because the surrounding buildings are closed. On (November 3), the Regina Chapter of the Council of Canadians donated portable toilets to the protesters for the next month.” That same day, CJME Radio reported, “The Council of Canadians donated a portable toilet to the protestors, stating that they are helping to affirm safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right.” And on November 5, CTV Regina reported, “The Council of Canadians has dropped off a Porta Potty for the group, who were previously using a make-shift toilet inside a tent.”

In a media release issued in early-November, Council of Canadians Regina chapter activist Jim Elliott said, “The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to affirm ‘the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’. And this is how we are providing that right to the occupiers in Regina. For the next month and perhaps longer, there will be that service on the site.”

On July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. This past August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, released her report on the state of these rights in the United States. Her report said, “All municipalities (should) provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation to homeless people, including through ensuring the opening and regular maintenance and upkeep of public restrooms, as well as availability of public water fountains, including during the night.”

In mid-September, the United Nations Examiner reported, “A United Nations leader accused California’s capital city of human rights violations. In a sweeping attack on perceived human rights violations in wealthier nations, de Albuquerque took aim at Sacramento. ‘I was especially shocked by what I saw in Sacramento, California, where the city decided to shut down or to restrict the opening hours of public restrooms,’ de Albuquerque said, ‘forcing homeless people to improvise other types of solutions to be able to exercise the right to sanitation.’ ‘Open defecation, open urination have been criminalized,’ de Albuquerque claimed. ‘So what happens is that someone can be criminalized just because he/she does not have a place to do his physiological needs.’”

The City of Regina’s website lists a number of parks with “on-site” washrooms, but they are only open from 8 am to 9 pm, daily between mid-May and mid-September. Victoria Park, where Occupy Regina is taking place, does not have an on-site washroom.

The CKOM and Regina Leader Post articles are at http://ckom.com/story/photosvideo-occupy-regina-protesters-want-apology/30883 and http://www.leaderpost.com/news/Occupy+Regina+protesters+asked+pack+camp/5677226/story.html.