November 22, 2016
The Central European country of Slovenia has amended its constitution to make access to drinkable water a fundamental right for all citizens. The Parliament adopted an amendment to the Constitution that declares the country’s abundant clean water supplies “a public good managed by the state” and “not a market commodity”.
Access to clean drinking water is unmistakenly a very important determinant of good health. Unfortunately, water can also become a commodity, that can be sold at high prices by water companies for profit. To make sure that that does not happen in Slovenia, the constitution now reads: “Water resources represent a public good that is managed by the state. Water resources are primary and durably used to supply citizens with potable water and households with water and, in this sense, are not a market commodity.”
Access to water for all
Slovenia is the first European Union country to include the right to water in its constitution. It is joining the 15 other countries across the world that according to Rampedre (the online Permanent World Report on the Right to Water) have already done so. Amnesty International said Slovenia must ensure the new law would be also applied to the 10,000-12,000 Roma people living in the country. “Many Roma are … denied even minimum levels of access to water and sanitation,” Amnesty said in a statement. ‘Some Romani communities are still forced to fetch water from polluted streams or public taps and do not have access to adequate toilets.”
The organization argues that no effective measures have so far been taken to implement the recommendations of a government commission which stated five years ago that access to water should be provided to all Roma communities as a matter of urgency. “The government must now ensure that the constitutional recognition that everyone has a right to drinking water leads to swift and concrete changes,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.
Slovenia adds water to constitution as fundamental right for all. Agence France-Presse in Ljubljana, 18 November 2016
Slovenia: Constitutional right to water “must flow down to” Roma communities. Amnesty International, 17 November 2016