Hirtu and Others v France
19 January 2015
The applicants are Roma who have Romanian nationality. Most of them have been living in France for over 10 years and have residence documents in France as EU citizens. They have been subjected to various forced evictions over the years. This case concerns the eviction which was ordered by the Prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis (near Paris) on 29 March 2013 (Good Friday). Despite attempts to challenge the eviction, the applicants wound up leaving the site where they were living on the night of 11 April 2013 in order to avoid being forcibly removed. They tried to settle nearby and were then moved on by the police on the morning of 12 April 2013. The applicants are still mostly living in France in slums, although some have been given social housing, which they had applied for before the April 2013 eviction.
The eviction order made on Good Friday 2013 was based on the “Besson Law” targeting travellers who are stopping without a permit. Believing that the Besson Law did not apply in this kind of case, the ERRC supported the applicants in trying to challenge the order through two means: an appeal against the order itself and urgent fundamental-rights proceedings to block the eviction. In both sets of proceedings the national judges refused to stop the eviction. The appeal against the eviction order itself is still pending in the higher courts. The applicants also made a Rule 39 request to the European Court of Human Rights to stop the eviction, but the Court decided not to consider the matter after the applicants left on the night of 11 April 2013. The applicants have made an application to the European Court, which is still pending. The French Défenseur des droits (the French ombudsman/NHRI) and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme, an NGO, intervened in the case as third parties.
The ERRC is representing the applicants in their case before the European Court of Human Rights and is supporting the lawyers who are taking forward the case at national level.