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Equality Law Fails, Roma Evictions Increase in France

6 February 2018

Paris, Budapest 6 February 2018: In the last year 11,309 Romani people were evicted from their homes in France, the majority of which (8,161) were forcefully evicted by authorities. A further 2,055 left their homes before the arrival of authorities, under pressure of an imminent eviction.

Last year saw a 12% increase in evictions from the previous year, and coincided with the so-called Equality and Citizenship law adopted on 27th January 2017. This legislation was supposed to provide some protection for inhabitants living in slums during the winter period by allowing the extension of eviction deadlines during the coldest months of the year.

The report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Ligue de droits de l’homme shows that the provisions of this new law were not applied when it comes to Romani families. Evictions were carried out by authorities despite the harsh winter conditions during the first quarter of 2017, as well as in November and December. In fact, it seems authorities brought forward planned evictions as winter approached, with a notable acceleration of evictions observed just before the first of November.

The solution to substandard housing and poverty is not putting families on the street and bulldozing their homes. This does nothing but reinforce the cycle of poverty and eviction, as the majority have nowhere else to go but back into makeshift housing where they must await the next eviction. Such evictions were observed in Paris where the same Romani families were evicted on two separate occasions in 2017 from the same location near Porte de la Chapelle. The first eviction was carried out on 28 February, and nine months later they were evicted again from the same place.

The year 2017 was marked by intensive evictions affecting 71% of those who live in slums in squats, putting thousands of Romani families out on the streets. Half of these evictions were executed without any offer of shelter, meaning most will be in immediate risk of another forced eviction in their new living place. French President Emmanuel Macron understood this cyclical problem when he said “Destroying without any alternative solution is a hypocritical, expensive and inefficient method. Public authorities together with inhabitants, neighbours and NGOs have to find solutions before destroying [slums] or evicting [people], as it leads to the creation of a new camp.” Yet evictions without rehousing solutions have increased under his watch.

The ERRC’s President Ðorđe Jovanović said “it is not an accident that this new law has not been applied in the case of Roma families. This is a deliberate, and ethnically targeted policy of routinely evicting very poor people from their homes, just to move them on to some other place.”  He has called for a moratorium on winter evictions, and for French authorities to consider the twenty proposals of inclusion policies for people living in slums and squats by the Collectif National des droits de l’homme Romeurope

The report on forced evictions of Roma in 2017 is available here.

The information in this press release is also available in French.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Coordinator
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118

Radost Zaharieva
Country Facilitator for France
European Roma Rights Centre
+33 76 106 0678

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