France: Human rights organizations protest forced evictions of Romani people
The European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH), a French human rights organization, issued the finding last month that up to 4 000 forced evictions of Romani people have taken place in France during the first half of 2015. The organizations say the confiscation of the Romani people's property during these incidents is even worse for them than the displacement is.
Nils Muižnieks, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have both repeatedly asked the French authorities to stop breaking their own laws by forcibly, systematically evicting Romani people. The ERRC and LDH France are also asking the authorities to stop the expulsions of Romani people and to find solutions to their circumstances that will respect their human rights.
A total of 3 947 Romani people were forcibly evicted from their homes in 37 separate locations throughout France in the first six months of this year, according to the NGOs. Another 110 Romani people had to leave to settlements that caught fire.
The average number of Romani people evicted by the French authorities has been 150 per week so far this year. The NGOs report that after 24 of these evictions the families were left in the street and offered no assistance with rehousing.
Alternative accommodation was only offered in 13 cases, the NGOs report. Authorities also provided emergency shelter in only one of the two cases of evacuation due to a fire.
Most of the expulsions ostensibly involved enforcing a court order, but 14 of the evictions were simply ordered by a municipality without recourse to the courts. There was one case of Roma leaving a slum on their own before an eviction order was to be executed.
The French Government's own guidelines from 2012 require evictions to be followed by the provision of rehousing and social support services. The NGOs say the facts show the authorities failed to do so in the vast majority of these cases.
“Everyone recognises that forced evictions are futile,” argues Françoise Dumont, chair of the LDH. “International bodies have declared them unjust. Their indignity is a stain on the history of the current government. But nothing will make the French authorities budge from their policy of stigmatising and rejecting the Roma.”
“The only way to overcome the French authorities’ stubbornness is to take them to court and that is what Roma will continue to do. In the next year, we expect judgments from the European Court of Human Rights on France’s misguided, discriminatory evictions policy,” says ERRC Legal Director Adam Weiss.
Muižnieks has urged the authorities to “put an end without delay to compulsory evictions of unlawfully occupied sites which are not accompanied by long-term rehousing solutions for all the occupants of those sites”. The ERRC believes there needs to be an ongoing dialogue between the local authorities, NGOs, and everyone else involved in these cases in order to prevent people's rights from being violated.
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