European Court Orders France to Compensate Evicted Roma

14 May 2020

Brussels, 14 May 2020: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has, in a long awaited judgment, ordered France to pay more than €40,000 in compensation to six Roma who were evicted from their homes in 2013. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) supported the Roma to take their case to the French courts and eventually all the way to the European Court where they finally received justice.

Forced evictions of Roma are one of the most visible and most widespread expressions of antigypsyism in Europe today. Marginalised Roma are frequently targeted for forced eviction in a disproportionate way which does not take into account the specific needs of vulnerable communities.  The court emphasised the fact that the litigants belonged to “an underprivileged social group” and that the authorities had failed to their particular needs into account when they made the decision to evict them.

"This judgment demonstrates once again that forced evictions of Roma are seriously and frequently violating human rights law, in France and across Europe. After a seven year long battle, these people finally received justice. But it is completely unacceptable that they had to wait so long. France has a long-standing, systemic problem of targeting Romani people with repeat evictions, which the Court did not consider to be discriminatory despite our claim" said Judit Geller, a Legal Consultant at the ERRC.  

The Roma had been living in caravans for about six months on municipal land in Seine-Saint-Denis, near Paris, when they were ordered to vacate the area by the Prefect on 29th March 2013. The order required “the travellers unlawfully settled on the site at rue Politzer and rue de la Prévôté in the municipality of La Courneuve” to vacate the site within 48 hours or be forcibly evicted. After attempts to challenge the eviction failed, the Roma ended up leaving the site on the night of 11 April 2013 in order to avoid being forcibly removed. They tried to settle somewhere nearby but were moved on by the police on the morning of 12 April 2013. 

At the time of the eviction all of the school-age children were attending school. No alternative accommodation was offered to the Roma, who were forced to sleep outside or in their cars before moving to an informal settlement in Bobigny where they had to share a caravan with other families.

The six Romani litigants have Romanian nationality, and most of them had been living in France for more than ten years with residence documents as EU citizens. They had been subjected to several forced evictions over the years, before the eviction in 2013 which they took to court.

The court ruled that French authorities had violated their rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and the home) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The French Défenseur des droits (the French ombudsperson) and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme, an NGO, intervened in the case as third parties. The decision will become final in three months’ time unless it is referred to the Grand Chamber by any of the parties.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Jonathan Lee
Advocacy & Communications Manager
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118

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