Thousands Made Homeless in France: Will Government Cease Roma Evictions During Winter Months?

Paris, Budapest 9 November 2017: Over the last summer, 4,538 Romani women, men and children were forced from their homes by French authorities. The report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Ligue de droits de l’homme describes another period of repeat forced evictions, in what is rapidly becoming the norm for how France deals with the most vulnerable of its Romani population.

(Image: Dominique Faget / AFP)

The ERRC urges the French government to place a moratorium on forced evictions affecting people in makeshift housing as soon as possible. This is imperative for protecting families from being forced onto the streets, and into the cold this winter.

In three months, of the 34 evictions which took place, only 22 were accompanied by a legal decision ordering the eviction. Over a thousand people who left their homes (1074) did so under threat of eviction, before the arrival of the police. This is more than double the number in the previous quarter (454) and is a concerning trend, not least because six of these evictions were accompanied by a legal order for eviction and two of them were affected by administrative notices issued by mayors ordering an eviction within 48 hours due to health hazard. In total nine such evictions were carried out in the last quarter based on administrative notices. The ERRC is concerned this measure is being used to expedite evictions of Roma to a 48 hour window. Orders issued by mayors/prefects are based only on an administrative decision without the intervention of a judge who is able to assess their legality, utility, methods and deadlines.

“These forced evictions, these ‘rafles’ of Roma, is nothing short of targeted racism which has been made into policy by French authorities” said the President of the ERRC, Dorde Jovanovic. “It is a Roma-only eviction policy in practice that is being carried out, and it only makes these families more vulnerable to discrimination, hatred and hardships on the streets.”

The report also shows an increase in incidents which further demonstrate the widespread level of antigypsyism in France: anti-Roma protests, hate symbols graffitied on a holocaust memorial, denied enrolment in schools, unequal access to public transport, hate speech from politicians, and on the 30th March 17, the shooting and killing of French Traveller Angelo Garand by police.

In May, and in August, we called on President Macron to live up to his campaign promises and begin a new chapter in France by ending routine forced evictions of Roma. It seems from the latest figures however, that it is a ‘more of the same’ policy which is being favoured, and a continuation of the practices put in place by his predecessors François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.

We once again ask Mr. Macron to consider his own party’s statement on the issue, stating that “destroying [slums] without any alternative solutions is a hypocritical, expensive and inefficient method. Public authorities together with inhabitants, neighbours and NGOs have to find solutions before destroying [slums] or evicting [people], as it leads to the creation of a new camp.”

The cycle of repeat forced evictions only destroys what little these people have managed to build for themselves, exacerbates the wider problem and costs money that could otherwise be use to address the housing and social inclusion crises in France. We ask French authorities to consider the annual report of the Collectif National des droits de l’homme Romeurope, containing twenty proposals of inclusion policies for people living in slums and squats. These long-term solutions which are aimed at the root causes of inequality and discrimination are more sustainable, more humane, and less costly than forced evictions.

The full report can be accessed here in English and French.

The information in this press release is also available in French.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Coordinator
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118

Radost Zaharieva
Country Facilitator for France
European Roma Rights Centre
+33 76 106 0678

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