Greece's austerity policies undermine human rights: UN expert

Some human rights in Greece are "are under threat or being undermined" by Athens's harsh austerity measures to meet the requirements of its international bail-out, a UN-mandated expert said Friday.

Socio-economic rights such as the right to work, social security, healthcare and housing were being negatively affected by the bail-out conditions imposed since 2010 by the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, Cephas Lumina, the independent expert on the impact of foreign debt to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, said in a speech in Athens.

The belt-tightening Greece has embarked on "is not able to absorb the shock of unemployment, reductions of salaries and tax increases," he said.

"Instead of strengthening the social welfare net and making it comprehensive, priority appears to have been accorded to fiscal consolidation at the expense of the people in Greece," he said.

Greece's population of 11 million is suffering skyrocketing joblessness, rising suicide and murder rates, and general despair as the government cuts back spending and sheds jobs to secure the two bailouts totalling 240 billion euros ($313 billion) it has received since May 2011.

Lumina called on Greece and the international lenders "to adopt a human rights-based approach" to its reforms to ensure it lives up to treaties enshrining human rights.