On Human Rights Day, Rebecca Taylor, Lib Dem Euro-MP for Yorkshire and the Humber has called for more protection for the rights of older people. This follows Rebecca’s recent involvement with an international conference on the human rights of older people, which took place in Osnabruck, Germany last week.
The conference, organised by HelpAge, put forward the case that current human rights legislation has gaps in it when it comes to protecting the rights of older people.
Commenting on the need for action to be taken, Rebecca Taylor MEP said,
“It is always said that human rights are universal, so you would expect that older people would be protected from discrimination and deprivation of rights based on age. It disappointing to discover that too often this is not so.”
The conference called for new human rights measures to specifically protect the rights of older people in order to fill the gaps in current legislation.
At the conference, Rebecca chaired a session on the right to health. As part of this there were contributions from Christian Courtis, of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ingrid Cupido, of Age-In-Action, South Africa, Tom Gentry from Age UK and Virginia McVae of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
The meeting heard that age discrimination in healthcare means that decisions about older people’s care are often made purely on age, without taking account of the health status of the individual patient. This can mean that older patients miss out on treatment that could be beneficial, which can negatively affect their future health. Rebecca noted,
“This is just one example of how older people are deprived of their rights without having recourse because current human rights instruments do not specify that age alone must not be used as a basis for healthcare decisions. This situation is simply not good enough; our older generation deserve better”
At the moment there is cross-EU agreement that there is no need to change existing human rights treaties, but Rebecca Taylor is clear there the current situation is insufficient, and change is needed to properly protect the rights of older people.
“European support for a new international instrument to protect the human rights of older people is crucial. I intend to do my bit to persuade the UK and other EU countries of the need for change” said Rebecca.
1) link to conference website: http://www.rights-of-older-people.org/en/