ERRC v Belgium, Collective Complaint 135/2019 (discrimination, policing)

01 August 2019


On 7 May 2019, the Belgian police launched its largest police operation in decades, mobilising 1,200 police officers to carry out raids on Traveller sites across the country. Ostensibly as part of a criminal investigation, the police seized over 90 caravans (people’s homes), as well as millions of euros worth of cash, cars, and other property. The police also deregistered the number plates of many Travellers’ cars that they did not seize. They froze people’s bank accounts without any explanation. The police’s conduct did not stop on 7 May: Travellers continued to be spot and invasively searched, having their caravans, cash, and other property seized on the spot. People who have no connection to the investigation or the allegations are unable to access their money or healthcare; families have been left homeless and in otherwise dire circumstances. The police started selling some of the caravans.

Belgium’s Equality Body, Unia, published a report setting out how the police’s conduct was grossly disproportionate to whatever legitimate aim they might have, and how it appeared to be discriminatory.

The ERRC’s Role

The ERRC has a status, as an international NGO, that allows us to submit collective complaints to the European Committee of Social Rights, for violations of the European Social Charter. In response to Unia’s report, we submitted such a complaint on 12 July 2019, asking the European Social Committee to indicate to Belgium immediately to ensure that no one is left homeless and to stop selling the caravans. 

  • Our complaint can be found here.
  • An English translation of Unia’s report can be found here. The original report, in French, is available here.
  • The Government’s observations on admissibility and the request for immediate measures, which they submitted on 27 August 2019, can be found (in French) here. Our response (in English), which we submitted on 30 September 2019, can be found here.

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