David R. Sands, Washington Times, May 3, 2016
The United Nations is weighing whether to insert itself in the probe into contaminated drinking water for residents of Flint, Michigan, after a trio of U.N. human rights experts in Switzerland said that racism and class discrimination may have played a key role in the scandal.
“Decisions would never have been made in the high-handed and cavalier manner that occurred in Flint if the affected population group was well-off or overwhelmingly white,” Philip Alston, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said in a statement Tuesday.
“Elected officials would have been much more careful, there would have been a timely response to complaints rather than summary dismissals of concerns, and official accountability would have been insisted upon much sooner,” he added.
“The fact that Flint residents have not had regular access to safe drinking water and sanitation since April 2014 is a potential violation of their human rights,” warned Leo Heller, the office’s top expert on the right to save drinking water. “Serious problems reported on water quality, particularly high concentrations of lead, are also concerning human rights issues.”