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US officials violated rights of Katrina victims: report

[JURIST] Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF; press release ] Friday accusing the government of committing human rights violations against the victims of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. The group criticized the response of officials at the local, state, and federal levels for being overly bureaucratic and lacking both accountability and leadership. As a result, according to AIUSA, low-income and minority communities were subjected to police misconduct and denied access to affordable housing and healthcare. The group also faulted the federal Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act [text, PDF] for noncompliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement [text, PDF] by failing to include provisions to ensure that the effects of disaster relief efforts do not bear socioeconomically or racially discriminatory impacts. The group called on the government to return victims to their their original homes and to improve their access to government services.

In November 2008, US housing advocates filed [JURIST report] a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against the government arguing that Louisiana's Hurricane Katrina recovery program, Road Home Louisiana [program website], discriminates against African-American homeowners. The US federal government has been repeatedly criticized [JURIST report] for its alleged discriminatory treatment of African-Americans in response to Hurricane Katrina. In February 2008, the UN called on [press release] the US to put a stop to discrimination against African-Americans who were being evicted from their homes or denied access to other available housing in the wake of the hurricane.

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