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France Fails on Roma Policy as More Migrants Evicted and Left with Nowhere to Go

27 September 2013

Budapest, Paris, 27 September 2013: Forced evictions of Roma migrants in the third quarter of 2013 have continued at a high rate. The authorities forcibly evicted a total of 5003 people during the third quarter, with a net increase in evictions during the months of July and August 2013.

This new data issued by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH) and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) shows that French policy towards Roma contradicts itself, promising a ‘pact of dignity’ while continuing with violent, brutal and unnecessary evictions.

In all, enforcement agencies carried out 56 evictions, involving 5003 people. Around 500 Roma were affected by fires in settlements, which left people homeless. The survey found that around 110 people were voluntarily repatriated.

The largest increase in the number of forced evictions was seen in the Paris region where the record is held by the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. In other regions (including the regions of Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, Lyon and Lille), forced evictions continued at a high, steady pace.

The survey revealed that during the third quarter there were 80 expulsion orders, decisions ordering the Roma to leave France. Field information suggests that the distribution of such orders is much higher in reality. However, as orders are only partially recorded by volunteers and almost never reported in the media, it is very difficult to find the true figures.

The organisations also saw a growing number of settlements that were abandoned by their inhabitants before the intervention of law enforcement officials, in order to avoid a confrontation with police and loss of property.

Forced evictions have continued in most cases, without appropriate alternative housing or any social support. As in previous months, the implementation of the 26 August 2012 bylaw - which ordered local authorities to carry out a social assessment of Roma in any eviction - is rare. When it does take place, it is not targeted towards the Roma as individuals, and it is usually hastily done and lacking depth. It often resembles a census of the population, rather than an assessment which can be used for real and lasting social inclusion work.

Recently, the Minister of the Interior claimed that Roma ‘do not want’ to integrate. It is striking how little effort authorities are prepared to make to give these communities any chance whatsoever to settle in one place.

Forced evictions are a failed policy, leading to poverty and misery. Roma communities are further marginalised and stigmatised. Public officials are quick to blame Roma, who they claim “do not want to integrate”; but they do not offer any real solutions, instead constantly evicting Roma who are forced to move around from one area to another.

We reiterate our call for an immediate end to this policy of rejection: forced evictions, disregarding France’s obligations under international and European treaties, cannot continue. Beyond the practical implementation of the 26 August bylaw, we also call for a real integration policy for those people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

This statement is also available in French.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
Tel. +36.30.500.1324

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