Horizontal Rule

European Court of Human Rights Condemns France for Traveller Evictions

17 October 2013

Budapest, Strasbourg, 17 October 2013: The European Court of Human Rights ruled today that France violated the European Convention on Human Rights when it ordered the eviction of travellers from a site, in events dating back to 2003. The failure of the French authorities and courts to consider the proportionality of the eviction breached Article 8 (right to respect for family life).

The case concerns 25 French nationals who belong to the Travellers community (gens du voyage), and an association called ATD Quart Monde. The applicants had been living on a piece of land for between five and 40 years in the municipality of Herblay, in France.  They belonged to a group of 95 people who had settled on the private land, which was intended for camping and caravanning and which, according to the land-use plan, was located in a protected natural area. The municipal authorities brought eviction proceedings against the families, and the French domestic courts issued orders for their forcible eviction. A large number of families left the site, fearing that the eviction orders would be enforced. Only four families were provided alternative accommodation in social housing.

French courts have a responsibility to consider the ‘proportionality’ of the eviction, that is to weigh up all the factors involved, including the rights of the applicants and alternative solutions.  In particular, families asked to be provided with new sites, however the request was ignored by the authorities.

“Unfortunately, it is all too common for the French authorities – and courts – to force Roma out of their homes without considering whether it is justified to do so,” said Dezideriu Gergely, ERRC Executive Director. “The ERRC is currently litigating several cases on this very issue in the French courts and the European Court of Human Rights.  We hope this judgment will help our clients secure justice.”

The applicants alleged that the eviction procedures brought against them by the French authorities were discriminatory and an interference with their private and family life, therefore violating their rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The ERRC submitted a third party intervention addressing the issue of the housing situation of Roma and Travellers in France, and argued that based on the Court’s case law “sheds and caravans” as homes of Roma fall within the scope of Article 8 of the Convention, and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The brief further noted that the domestic legal system in France is inadequate to address the unique housing circumstances of Roma and travellers in France, and that no effective national remedies existed under the domestic legal system to remedy their homelessness. In its submission, the ERRC enlisted several international legal instruments, including the ECHR, European Social Charter and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, under which France has an obligation to afford Roma, as a particularly vulnerable group, an increased level of protection. In the area of housing this means providing adequate alternative accommodation in cases of forced evictions.

For more information contact:

Sinan Gökçen 

Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
Tel. +36.30.500.1324
sinan.gokcen@errc.org

Horizontal Rule

Joint submission to UN CRC on Slovakia (April 2016)

18 April 2016

Written comments by the European Roma Rights Centre and Center for Civil and Human Rights concerning Slovakia for consideration by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at the 72nd Session (17 May 2016 – 03 June 2016)

more ...

horizontal rule

ERRC Seeks Lawyer or Legal Trainee

3 May 2016

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) seeks qualified applicants for the position of lawyer or legal trainee (depending on the selected candidate’s level of experience). This position is for a career activist with legal skills (as opposed to a career lawyer interested in activism). The lawyer or legal trainee will play a crucial role in the ERRC’s cutting-edge work of bringing innovative, strategic legal cases to further the cause of Roma emancipation. 

more ...

horizontal rule

Combating Hate Crime and Hate Speech in France and Italy

4 February 2016

Introduction

For years, the ERRC has been documenting hate crime and hate speech in various countries. With support from the Open Society Initiative for Europe, the ERRC is carrying out a project designed to expose the extent of anti-Roma hate crime and hate speech in France and Italy and improve the authorities' response to these problems. The purpose of this project is to introduce a new methodology for this work and apply it in these two Western European countries, where the extent of anti-Roma hate speech and hate crime is largely recognised, but poorly documented or addressed. 

more ...

horizontal rule