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Food Is a Human Right, UN Expert Says

Food Is a Human Right, UN Expert Says

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UN expert pushes for food to be a legally binding human right

Wikimedia/Alex Proimos

UN expert Olivier De Schutter says food should be legally recognized as a human right.

Faced with a need for food, other human rights can seem less significant, but food is not universally seen as a human right. An independent expert with the UN is pushing to change that, and is pushing for governments to take more responsibility in making sure people have food to eat.

"Often we labor under the misconception that the right to food is not like political rights such as freedom of speech," said UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, in his report, "Assessing a decoade of right to food progress." "But economic and social rights—to food, water, housing, social protection—are just as real, just as binding, and can be upheld just as legitimately in court."

According to Food Navigator, De Schutter says South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, and Niger have already included a right to food in their constitutions. He believes governments should adopt nutrition policies into their legal systems in an attempt to take responsibility for the food supply.

"Treating food as a human right brings coherence and accountability," De Schutter said. "It helps to close the gaps by putting food security of all citizens at the top of the decision-making hierarchy, and making these decision-making processes participatory and accountable."

According to Food Navigator, the UN's Committee on World Food Security adopted its Right to Food Voluntary Guidelines in 2004 and is planning to review them in 2014.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. The UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired, and paved the way for, the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties, applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels (all containing references to it in their preambles).

Tabitha Brown, @iamtabithabrown

Southern actress and content creator Tabitha Brown experienced chronic pain and fatigue for nearly two years. But when she tried out a 30-day vegan challenge with her husband, within ten days she was already started feeling better. Brown immediately began observing a vegan diet, and the lifestyle change allowed her to explore the culinary world with renewed energy.

Although she only started sharing her vegan recipes and cooking tips on TikTok in early March 2020, her genuine character, reassuring voice, and skillful ability to make complex recipes look simple have quickly netted her a fanbase of more than 2 million people.

“I honestly do it to help people see food differently and know they have other options if they ever want to try something new!” she tells PEOPLE. “It literally saved my life, so that’s why I share.”

Food Is the Love Language That Shapes My Relationships

Over 25 years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman penned the infamous New York Times bestseller &ldquoThe 5 Love Languages.&rdquo It was a revolutionary concept that&rsquos still relevant today, and in case you haven&rsquot read the book or taken the quiz , here are the cliff notes: humans express love and want to feel loved in return in five different ways &mdash words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch.

Here&rsquos the modern-day twist: some experts believe there&rsquos a sixth omnipotent love language &mdash food. &ldquoFood incorporates all the other five languages and all five senses. It&rsquos a very powerful way of creating a connection and expressing love,&rdquo relationship and human behavior expert Patrick Wanis, Ph.D. tells SheKnows.

And as I think about myself and all life&rsquos relationships &mdash family, friends, and romantic &mdash I&rsquove never felt more understood.

Food was motherly love

The ticker tape of my childhood memories was mostly set in the kitchen: my father, sister, and me sitting around the table eating Mom&rsquos homemade chicken tarragon on a Tuesday night Mom baking decadent birthday cupcakes for me to take to school on Thanksgiving, all the women in my extended family buzzing around Grandma&rsquos kitchen (wine in hand), whipping up no less than twelve dishes from scratch.

While other kids went to the McDonald&rsquos drive-thru after sports practice, my mom had swordfish topped with strawberry salsa waiting for me after horseback riding. &ldquoFast food&rdquo was not a term used in our household. Instead, meals brought us together as a family and were something to be savored. For my mother, cooking and providing for her family was her language of love.

Once I hit my teenage years, I became old enough to become equally impressed and intimidated by my mother&rsquos culinary prowess. I&rsquod huddle over the counter, watch her expertly de-seed a pepper, and ask: &ldquoHow will I ever learn how to do this? Will I even want to? Cooking looks like a lot of work.&rdquo

Mom would laugh and say, &ldquoYou love to eat good food, so one day you&rsquore going to figure it out. Cooking can actually be kind of fun.&rdquo

Sharing is caring &mdash especially when you&rsquore cooking

Fast-forward to my early 20s: I was single and living on my own in a Manhattan studio apartment, just blocks away from some of the best restaurants in the world. But even then, going out to dinner didn&rsquot interest me &mdash I yearned for Mom&rsquos homemade shrimp scampi and realized this was the &ldquoone day&rdquo she was talking about. So, armed with my mom&rsquos best recipes (and some creativity), and I taught myself how to cook in my two-by-four kitchen.

If I do say so myself, I got pretty damn good at. And my mom was right&mdashpreparing a meal was fun, like making edible crafts. My ritual after every night of work became going all-out for myself at dinner by lighting a candle and sipping wine.

As I&rsquod eat the fruits of my labor at my table, solo, my belly would get full &mdash but part of me still felt empty with no one to share my food with. Yes, I love to eat well, but what I really wanted was to open a bottle of Cabernet and share my Tuscan tortellini with others. I wanted someone to tell me how damn delicious my hard work tastes, how great my kitchen smells, how impressive my presentation is. I craved a shared experience that lit up everyone&rsquos five senses.

I started inviting my neighbors up, texting friends to stop over, throwing dinner parties in my tiny apartment, and dreaming about the day I&rsquod have a significant other to enjoy my meals with while we talk about our days.

A recipe for long-lasting love

Then five years ago, I finally met Jeremy. Of course, I welcomed my new suitor wine-ing and dining me in the beginning (every girl deserves to be courted!). Eventually, I took out my big guns and hosted him for dinner: Maryland crab cakes with rice pilaf and roasted asparagus (which to this day, is still his favorite meal in my repertoire).

It was the first of many meals I&rsquove cooked for Jeremy. Our Friday date nights were my favorites: I&rsquod brainstorm a dish to make that he&rsquod enjoy (lots of spice, no mushrooms) I&rsquod make an ingredient list and troll the grocery store he&rsquod come over to my place and we&rsquod pop a bottle of wine while I cooked, and we&rsquod eventually enjoy a multi-course meal together.

Oh yes, it was a lot of work. But despite the fact that I enjoyed cooking for Jeremy (and he always thanked me and did the dishes), my meals were a labor of love and were the way I showed Jeremy I cared about him.

No matter your love language, be a good listener

Then one evening, I mentioned I was tired and Jeremy said what you&rsquod think would be the magic words: &ldquoLet&rsquos order in tonight so you don&rsquot have to cook &mdash how about pizza?”

But instead, his offer triggered my defensive tangent: You&rsquod rather pizza over my food?! Do you not like my cooking?

Eye-rolling at my dramatic outburst? I get it. But since I&rsquom someone who speaks the language of food, turning down my cooking (and the shared camaraderie of eating it together) felt for a moment like he was turning away my love &mdash when in fact, he was trying to show me love.

While I had been speaking to Jeremy in my love language, I forgot to listen to how he innately gives and receives love: with acts of service&hellip like offering to give me a night off from cooking when I&rsquom tired. So yes, we have different love languages (many partners do), but my upset rant about ordering in wasn&rsquot really about pizza &mdash it happened because I was so busy cooking, chopping, serving and eating that I wasn&rsquot totally listening to my partner. And no matter what a person&rsquos love language is, good communication on both sides is the foundation of every happy relationship.

Jeremy and I still continue Friday date nights in sometimes I cook a meal for two and sometimes he orders us sushi to the couch. As we plan our wedding and our future together, he says, &ldquowhen we buy a house, we&rsquoll find you something with a big gourmet kitchen.&rdquo

So even if we don&rsquot speak the same love language, we listen to and understand each other &mdash and at the end of the day, that&rsquos love.

Brazil’s revolutionary new food guide focuses on how food is made

Get back to cooking with fresh ingredients and avoid ultra-processed food for better health, say experts By Leora Eisen, director of Food for Thought

In 2019, Health Canada will release a new version of Canada&rsquos Food Guide &mdash the first revision of our national roadmap for healthy eating since 2007. It&rsquos an important document, influencing the nutrition advice we get from doctors and dietitians, dictating the health curriculum in schools and even impacting what&rsquos on the menu in public institutions like hospitals.

Brazil introduces a new, revolutionary food guide

In Food for Thought a documentary from The Nature of Things, we learn that Brazil&rsquos new food guide, created in 2014, is considered a model for the world. It&rsquos been endorsed by everyone from food guru Michael Pollan to the United Nations and is based on a radical yet surprisingly simple idea. Forget about categorizing diet by food groups, pyramids or nutrients. Don&rsquot dwell on calories. Instead, focus on how food is made.

The Brazilian guide classifies food according to four levels of processing:

1. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods (e.g. fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, eggs, nuts)
2. Processed culinary ingredients (cooking ingredients, e.g. salt, butter, sugar, oils)
3. Processed foods (e.g. canned fruits and vegetables, cured meat)
4. Ultra-processed food and drink products

It urges people to avoid ultra-processed foods at all costs. These are the manufactured products that line aisle after aisle in your local supermarket: breakfast cereals sweetened fruit juice and pop packaged snacks like chips and cookies heat-and-eat convenience foods like instant noodles macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza. These foods are loaded with unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium. There&rsquos a reason they have a long shelf life: they&rsquore filled with chemicals and preservatives.

University of Montreal professor Jean-Claude Moubarac, who helped devise the Brazilian guidelines, says, &ldquoThese are not real foods. These are formulations of industrial substances and additives, carefully selected to make a product that is durable, highly appealing and prone to overconsumption.&rdquo

Another aim of Brazil&rsquos food guide is to avoid complicated food rules. &ldquoPeople don&rsquot need to understand the difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats,&rdquo notes one of the guide&rsquos key creators, University of Sao Paulo public health expert Carlos Monteiro. Instead, the guide offers one golden rule: always choose natural or minimally processed foods and freshly made meals over ultra-processed foods.

It also warns consumers to be wary of the food industry&rsquos marketing claims. &ldquoManufacturers have convinced us that what goes on in the kitchen and what goes on in the factory are the same,&rdquo says Moubarac. &ldquoThey are two different things.&rdquo

Guide stresses the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients

Moubarac is one of the experts Health Canada has consulted as it prepares our new policy. He hopes Canadians will realize, just as Brazil&rsquos guide advises, that cooking with fresh ingredients can play a crucial role in improving health.

But is cooking from scratch realistic for working parents? Moubarac thinks so, stressing that he&rsquos not suggesting women put on their aprons and return to their traditional role as sole keepers of the kitchen.

&ldquoThis isn&rsquot about nostalgia,&rdquo he insists. &ldquoCooking is fundamental to humanity. It should be an activity for the entire family.&rdquo He believes if families make it a priority, even children can participate in shopping, planning menus and preparing meals.

According to Moubarac, only one in five Canadians cooks on a daily basis. We grab ready-to-eat convenience foods and order takeout, and as a result get nearly 50 per cent of our daily calories from ultra-processed products. For our kids, the statistics are even more alarming. Children from nine to 13, for one, get almost 60 per cent of their calories from ultra-processed food. &ldquoIt&rsquos a nutritional calamity,&rdquo says Moubarac, and the underlying reason why poor diet is now the number one risk factor for mortality.

Nutritious food for children is a human right

In Brazil, providing nutritious food for children isn&rsquot just a lofty goal &mdash it&rsquos a human right written into their constitution. Brazil&rsquos public schools are mandated, by law, to serve freshly prepared meals, and the goal is to source at least 30 per cent of the produce they cook with from local family farmers. It&rsquos a way to encourage economic and environmental sustainability while improving the health of at least 45 million children who eat at school every day.

Finally, the Brazilian guide advises people to sit down for meals with friends and family, to enjoy both the food and the experience. Despite their busy schedules, that&rsquos what Moubarac and his wife try to do every day with their two young children. As they say in Brazil, bom apetite!

Watch Food for Thought on The Nature of Things.

Available on CBC Gem

The Nature of Things: Food for Thought

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Your body will be in a state of inflammation post-vaccine.

According to the CDC, you may experience some adverse side effects of taking the COVID-19 vaccine. While this doesn't happen for everyone, some vaccine patients have mentioned experiencing side effects for a few hours after taking the vaccine, including fevers, chills, tiredness, and a headache.

In a Q&A with Cleveland Clinic, Thaddeus Stappenbeck, MD, PhD, says that these side effects are coming from inflammation that is happening within your body. Your body is reacting to the spike protein and is working to fight off the simulated infection. Sore arms, fevers, muscle aches are all common when your immune system is fighting something.

This is why eating immune-boosting foods is important for your recovery, particularly foods with a high-water content. The CDC also states that drinking plenty of fluids is important for recovery after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This means any anti-inflammatory foods that can also hydrate your body will help immensely with your recovery—especially these 8 Best Foods To Eat Before and After Getting the COVID Vaccine.

UN poverty expert hits back over UK ministers' ⟞nial of facts'

The United Nations expert whose warning of deepening poverty in Britain was this week dismissed as “barely believable” by ministers, has said the government’s denial is as worrying as the poverty itself.

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published his final report on the state of Britain on Wednesday. In it he accused the government of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”. Ministers responded that it was “a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty” and instead claimed the UK was among the happiest countries in the world.

Alston, an eminent New York-based human rights lawyer, said the government response amounted to “a total denial of a set of uncontested facts” and that when he first read its public comment “I thought it might actually be a spoof”.

He said he feared it showed ministers were not willing to debate official figures that showed 14 million people were living in relative poverty and therefore consider what he believes are essential changes to the welfare system.

“The statement is as troubling as the situation,” he said. “There is nothing that indicates any willingness to debate over issues which have generated endless very detailed, totally reputable reports across the political spectrum in the UK. All of these are dismissed.”

Alston’s report compared Conservative policies to the creation of Victorian workhouses. Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, said she felt it was politically biased and alleged that Alston did not do enough research, only visiting the UK for 11 days.

The government said it would complain to the United Nations and the UK’s ambassador in Geneva is understood to have this week requested a meeting with the UN high commissioner on human rights over the matter.

When Alston said the Department for Work and Pensions had created “a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse”, some commentators said he had gone too far. The historian Dominic Sandbrook wrote in the Daily Mail that it was “simply ridiculous” and “an insult to our national intelligence”.

But far from backing down, Alston, who describes his politics as progressive and left-of-centre, has pushed his argument harder.

“I think breaking rocks has some similarity to the 35 hours of job search [required per week to receive universal credit] for people who have been out of work for months or years,” he said. “They have to go through the motions but it is completely useless. That seems to me to be very similar to the approach in the old-style workhouse. The underlying mentality is that we are going to make the place sufficiently unpleasant that you really won’t want to be here.”

In response to his report, the government cited research showing the UK was one of the happiest places in the world to live. It appeared to be a study that placed the UK 15th behind 12 other European countries including Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the whole of Scandinavia.

“That takes the denial on the part of the government to new heights,” Alston said. “The government is proceeding as if the problems I have reported don’t exist. Is it the case that 14 million people do not live in poverty? Do they contest the child poverty predictions? That is what it seems to be.”

Alston may have overstated one of the most startling statistics in his report, that “close to 40% of children are expected to be living in poverty by 2021”.

It was based on a forecast rise from 30% in 2016 to 37% in 2021 made 18 months ago by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which now says it is likely to be an overestimate. The latest official figures, published in March, revealed the proportion of children in relative poverty has remained flat at 30% to 2018.

Alston said the figures were still bad: “We go down from 40% to one-third of British children. Is that a good result?”

Alston, a law professor at New York University, has been the UN poverty rapporteur since 2014 and has carried out investigations in countries including the US, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, China and Chile. He said governments normally responded with a detailed analysis or refutation of his reports but that had not yet come from the UK. Laos, which he investigated earlier this year, had already filed a detailed 20-page response.

In his reports he deliberately avoids “the arid and evasive language of diplomacy”, and that often leads him into political conflict.

He said it was a disgrace that the UN did not accept full responsibility for the cholera outbreak its workers imported to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. In 2018, he accused the Trump administration of being driven by “contempt, and sometimes even by hatred for the poor” while “bringing in massive tax breaks for corporations and the very wealthy”. Trump’s ambassador to the UN at the time, Nikki Haley, accused him of bias and being “misleading and politically motivated”.

Alston, 69, a married father of four, studied law at Melbourne University and moved to Berkeley in California for his doctorate in the late 1970s. He has a long association with the UN, including as an official in Geneva for six years and chairing its committee on economic, social and cultural rights for eight years. As UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for another six years, he travelled to countries including Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Ecuador.

He is well-regarded by colleagues who in January sprung on him a surprise academic conference. He arrived for what he expected to be a routine event only to find a two-day seminar dedicated to his human rights work. Instead of party games and music, scholars, who had been planning the event in secret for two years, gave papers and panel discussions at what they dubbed “Philipfest”.

UN expert: World religions should defer to the authority of UN experts

Ahmad Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. University of Essex / YouTube

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6, 2020 (C-Fam) &mdash According to the UN&rsquos special expert on freedom of religion, the fringe views of UN human rights bodies must take precedence over the mainstream beliefs of many leading world religions, when it comes to law and policy.

In his newly-launched annual report, Ahmad Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, wrote about the intersection of religion and gender equality. He concluded that laws based in traditional morality, often religious in nature, should be repealed if they conflict with the opinions of human rights scholars and UN experts.

&ldquoStates have an obligation to guarantee to everyone, including women, girls and LGBT+ people, an equal right to freedom of religion or belief,&rdquo he said, &ldquoincluding by creating an enabling environment where pluralist and progressive self-understandings can manifest.&rdquo

In order to enable these &ldquoself-understandings,&rdquo laws criminalizing abortion or various sexual behaviors would need to be overruled.

Shaheed noted that laws regarding abortion and homosexual behavior often arise from the application of religious teachings regarding the sanctity of life, the family, and sexual morality. While stopping short of directly calling on major world religions, such as Christianity or Islam, to change their doctrines, he attempted to differentiate between &ldquopatriarchal&rdquo and &ldquogender equal&rdquo interpretations of religious teachings. The report cites the work of scholars who have worked to promote &ldquoprogressive&rdquo reinterpretations of faith traditions, adding that the source of gender-based violence or discrimination is not necessarily religions, but, rather, certain interpretations of them, &ldquowhich are not protected per se.&rdquo

The notion of &ldquoLGBT+ rights,&rdquo a concept that has only recently entered the parlance of scholars, and which has no international consensus, much less a formally accepted definition, is treated by the report as a given. In contrast, religious traditions, some dating back thousands of years, are treated as subordinate. The special rapporteur cites &ldquomany feminists and human rights scholars&rdquo in arguing that &ldquorules regulating the status of men and women, including in the appointment of clergy,&rdquo are not only religious, but political, and therefore &ldquoare a concern for the State and international human rights law.&rdquo

Last November, Shaheed Tweeted a quote from a workshop focusing on gender equality and freedom of religion: &ldquoWhen access to safe abortion is denied, the right to life, the right to health, the right to equal human dignity is denied.&rdquo

On Monday, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, where a joint statement was presented on behalf of several pro-life and pro-family organizations, including C-Fam, raising objections to the report&rsquos disregard for the rights of unborn children and calls to restrict the rights of conscientious objection to abortion by health care professionals.

The position of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief is part of the subset of the UN Human Rights Council known as Special Procedures. As such, he serves in an individual, unpaid, capacity, and his reports are advisory and nonbinding. Nevertheless, they feed into the UN&rsquos library of human rights documents that frequently cite each other in defending interpretations of human rights that are far from gaining widespread support among UN Member States.

Previous special rapporteurs, including those whose mandates include torture, violence against women, and the right to health, have used their posts to advance pro-abortion positions.

How I Got To This Point

I get a lot of emails from new bloggers asking me how I grew my blog overnight. The truth is, I didn’t. My pictures and written content were embarrassing in the beginning and not nearly as developed compared to those who had been food blogging longer. I constantly compared my baby blog to the “big leagues” and often felt bad about myself. Why compare apples to oranges though? It inspired me to just KEEP working hard.

I’ve been able to improve my photos, recipes, and content simply by of the amount of time I put into it. Learning, making mistakes, learning more, and always improving. It’s the perfectionist in me. From this work, I’ve been lucky to have my content featured all over social media.

Keep at it. Ask questions, read books (see suggestions below), make mistakes, enjoy the process of doing something you love. My post about producing quality content and how to start a food blog are packed with more blogging advice!

UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

Conditions in which migrants and refugees are being held in the United States are appalling, said the UN human rights chief on Monday, underscoring that children should never be held in immigration detention, or separated from their families.

“As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of State, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions”, said High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

She stated that according to several UN human rights bodies, detaining migrant children may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that is prohibited under international law.

US migration: @unhumanrights Chief @mbachelet is appalled by conditions of detention for migrants/refugees & urges non-custodial alternatives. Border mgmt measures must not narrowly aim at detecting, detaining & deporting irregular migrants.

&mdash UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) July 8, 2019

Spelling out that immigration detention is never in the best interests of a child, the OHCHR chief explained that “even for short periods under good conditions” it “can have a serious impact on their health and development”. “Consider the damage being done every day by allowing this alarming situation to continue”, she said.

‘Measure of last resort’

Noting the disturbing report by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General on the conditions in migrant centres along the southern border, Ms. Bachelet urged the authorities to find non-custodial alternatives for migrant and refugee children and adults.

“Any deprivation of liberty of adult migrants and refugees should be a measure of last resort”, she maintained.

If migrants or refugees are detained, the High Commissioner emphasized that it should be for the shortest period – with due process safeguards and under conditions that fully meet all relevant international human rights standards.

“States do have the sovereign prerogative to decide on the conditions of entry and stay of foreign nationals”, she acknowledged, adding, “but clearly, border management measures must comply with the State’s human rights obligations and should not be based on narrow policies aimed only at detecting, detaining and expeditiously deporting irregular migrants”.

The human right chief elaborated that “in most of these cases, the migrants and refugees have embarked on perilous journeys with their children in search of protection and dignity and away from violence and hunger”.

“When they finally believe they have arrived in safety, they may find themselves separated from their loved ones and locked in undignified conditions”, she continued, saying “this should never happen anywhere.”

Address root causes

UN human rights offices in Mexico and Central America have documented numerous violations and abuses against migrants and refugees in transit, including the excessive use of force, family separation, denial of services and arbitrary expulsions.

The High Commissioner said she recognized the “complexity of the situation and the challenges faced by States of origin, transit and destination”, calling on them to work together to address the root causes which force migrants to leave their homes. She said crosscutting policies needed to be put in place that consider the complex drivers of migration. These include insecurity, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination and crippling poverty.

Ms. Bachelet also paid tribute to individuals and civil society organizations that have been supporting the basic rights of migrants, such as to water, food, health and shelter.

“The provision of lifesaving assistance is a human rights imperative that must be respected at all times and for all people in need” she said. “It is inconceivable that those who seek to provide such support would risk facing criminal charges”.