Amnesty: Dale Farm is a forced eviction on an unprecedented scale

Amnesty International said today, that Basildon Council was conducting a “forced eviction on an unprecedented scale” at Dale Farm. Amnesty refuted attempts to portray the eviction as a “site clearance” and urged restraint from the police and bailiffs.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“Some commentators and politicians have portrayed the enforcement action by Basildon Council at Dale Farm as a site clearance, and not a forced eviction. This is misleading and inaccurate.

“What is in its early stages at Dale Farm is a forced eviction which will leave several families homeless. The families being evicted have been failed by the Council at every turn; in inadequate consultation, insufficient negotiation and in the woeful failure to offer culturally adequate alternative accommodation, to which they are entitled.

“The sad reality is that we are witnessing a forced eviction on an unprecedented scale in the UK. The eviction at Dale Farm is not necessary and represents a failure on the Council’s part to comply with international human rights standards on housing and evictions.

“The use of force by police and bailiffs must always be strictly proportionate, necessary, appropriate and an absolute last resort.”

The eviction would leave many residents of Dale Farm without adequate alternative accommodation and without access to essential services such as schooling for Children's rights and continuous medical treatment for residents with serious illnesses. Many residents fear they will be left homeless. Many of the Irish Travellers at Dale Farm have expressed concern about wider discrimination against their community, and fear they will be unable to find a home that they consider culturally adequate.

There has been a lack of genuine consultation consistent with international human rights standards on options for alternative culturally adequate housing for those affected. While some have been offered ‘bricks and mortar’ housing, many do not want this, and the Council has not offered alternative culturally adequate housing to all those residents facing eviction.

Amnesty International is asking people to take action to help stop the eviction, at www.amnesty.org.uk/dalefarm

Background 

Irish Travellers are an ethnic group, originally from Ireland, who are recognised and protected as an ethnic group in English law. Many Irish Travellers live in caravans on unauthorised encampments or on authorised sites. Irish Travellers, along with other Roma, Travellers and Gypsies in the UK, face widespread discrimination and significant obstacles in getting housing, education and health services. 

Dale Farm, which is located on land owned by some Traveller, Roma and Gypsy families, is the UK’s largest Traveller settlement. Part of Dale Farm was granted permission for residential use. The part of Dale Farm where up to 400 Irish Traveller residents now face forced eviction, however, has repeatedly been denied planning permission for residential use on the basis of local zoning restrictions.

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