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Draft COHRE Statement for Lo-Sheng Meeting in March

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) expresses solidarity with the residents of Lo-Sheng Sanatorium in their struggle to retain their residence and save the sanatorium from demolition. COHRE pursues the vision of a world in which everyone fully enjoys housing rights, and promotes practical legal and other solutions to problems of homelessness, inadequate housing and forced evictions.


The Lo-Sheng sanatorium, the oldest in Taiwan is being demolished to make way for the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit System. COHRE notes with deep concern that the Lo Sheng Sanatorium in Sinjhuang City, Taipei, which housed 310 persons affected by leprosy before 2003, is now home to only 80 residents due to several eviction attempts by the Taipei County government (TCG).


Many of those affected by leprosy have been made to live in isolation, cut off from all family and community ties and denied opportunities for development including education, participation and employment. Over the years, however, segregated spaces like Lo-Sheng have provided persons affected by leprosy with the much-needed sense of community, identity and belonging – all the essential characteristics that make a place of dwelling a home. COHRE strongly urges the Taipei County government (TCG) to halt all plans to evict the remaining residents of Lo-Sheng and explore alternative development plans.


As per international human rights law, forced evictions are a violation of the right to adequate housing. If Lo-Sheng residents are forcibly evicted, the TCG will be guilty of violating the human rights of some of the most marginalised sections of society. COHRE also points our that the TCG’s plans to relocate Lo-Sheng residents to the 5th and 9th floors of the newly-built Hui-Long Hospital, is unsuitable for persons affected by leprosy as it does not provide an open space community and home-based model, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).


Beginning with article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the right to adequate housing has been reaffirmed in numerous international human rights instruments. Specifically, Article 11 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, obliges State parties to respect, protect and fulfil the human right to adequate housing and thus provides protection from forced evictions.  According to General Comment 7 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) mandated to monitor compliance with the Covenant, "the State itself must refrain from forced evictions and ensure that the law is enforced against its agents or third parties who carry out forced evictions".   General Comment 7, while extending protection against forced evictions to all, gives special consideration to vulnerable groups including women, children, older persons and persons belonging to ethnic and other minorities. Additionally, it requires State parties to explore, all feasible alternatives to the eviction and provide affected persons with accurate information on the proposed eviction, opportunities for meaningful consultation and access to legal remedies. 


It is essential for the government of Taiwant to carry out in-depth consultations with the residents of Lo Sheng Sanatorium and to fully explore the alternative plan submitted by the Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA), which was carried out in consultation with the residents of Lo Sheng Sanatorium. The CCA plan would retain as much as 90 percent of the sanatorium’s heritage-buildings allowing for the residents to continue living in them, while making way for the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit System.

Recognising that many of Lo-Sheng’s residents are older persons, COHRE draws attention to General Comment 6 of CESCR, which addresses concerns, related to the economic, social and cultural rights of older persons. General Comment 6 emphasises recommendations of the Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging particularly recommendation 19 that recognises that housing for the elderly, apart from physical, has particular psychological and social significance which should be taken into account and that national policies should help elderly persons to continue to live in their own homes as long as possible, through the restoration, development and improvement of homes. Plans to forcibly relocate Lo-Sheng residents to Hui-Long Hospital run contrary to General Comments 6 and 7. 

Given Taiwan’s stated commitment to uphold human rights principles, and welcoming the new Hansen’s disease Patients Human Rights Protection and Compensation Act, COHRE urges the Taiwanese government to suspend implementation of the planned eviction until such time as appropriate alternatives have been agreed on by the affected parties.



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