French left and right unite on mass evictions of Roma: Hollande forces thousands more Roma onto the streets
A report released earlier this month by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme shows France stepped up the number of forced evictions of Roma this year after a relative reprieve in the second quarter. After a reduction in eviction numbers, France has seemingly made up for lost time and increased the number of forced evictions of Romani people; the full report on the forced evictions of Roma in France for the third quarter of 2016 is available in English and French.
The third quarter of 2016 saw over 2 500 Romani people forcibly evicted from their homes and settlements throughout France, according to the report. Most of these evictions were instigated without a legal decision and without provision of any sustainable alternative accommodation.
In the wake of the tragic scenes that took place at the "Jungle" Refugee Camp in Calais this year, waves of indignation and calls for solidarity were heard loud and clear across Europe. When faced with informal settlements of poor, desperate people, the response of the French state was clear: Violent, forced evictions.
According to the ERRC, this should not be surprising, as these tactics have been honed over the last few years by the continuous, unrelenting evictions of Romani people across France. In contrast to the reactions to the tragic scenes unfolding at Calais, however, the evictions of Roma have evoked a much more muted response from the European press and public.
Many of these evictions, according to the report, were planned for earlier in the year and put off until the third quarter began, showing a worrisome lack of concern for the welfare of the families being forced onto the streets and into ever more vulnerable situations right before the winter. France’s uncompromising program of forced evictions on an ethnic basis shows little sign of let-up, according to this latest report, continuing the pattern of discrimination that has beleaguered Roma in France in recent years.
When President Hollande was elected in 2012, he did so on the back of promises to implement measures that would show the Government’s serious commitment to Roma inclusion. In the run up to the 2012 elections, Hollande made clear that any dismantling of Romani camps would comply with international standards and would offer adequate alternative accommodation to those evicted.
Instead of meeting those commitments, Hollande’s Socialist Party has taken no action as thousands upon thousands of Roma have been forcibly evicted, continuing the appalling example set by the Sarkozy administration. A joint statement made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Council of Europe and other international bodies denouncing the human cost of evictions was widely ignored by the French authorities during the third quarter.
The ERRC has urged France to abide by the OPRE joint statement calling for sustainable housing and accommodation solutions for Roma in order to avoid further evictions and reminds France that forced evictions are justifiable only in the most exceptional circumstances and, where they occur, must meet international legal standards. The situation at the end of the third quarter of 2016 was dire, according to the report.
The call of the ERRC for French authorities to take stock of the human cost of forced evictions remains as pertinent as ever and has been echoed by numerous international bodies. The ERRC and its partner in France, the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, continue to demand the French authorities cease their illegal policy of systematic, ethnically-motivated evictions and that they put in place workable, long-term solutions supporting Romani integration and addressing the root causes of inequality before such unlawful evictions take place.
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