Dale Farm: Council must respect international law and standards

Amnesty International today warned Basildon Council that they had a duty to observe international human rights laws and standards and urged further discussion ahead of an imminent proposed forced eviction of Dale Farm residents.

Between 300 and 400 Irish Travellers living at Dale Farm in Cray’s Hill, Essex, face impending forced eviction from their homes, following a series of unsuccessful legal actions to stop the eviction.

The proposed 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 if a negotiated settlement is not reached.

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.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“Just because Basildon Council has been told that they can go ahead with the eviction of Dale Farm, it does not mean that they should. Human rights law is clear that the council must not forcibly evict a community, without offering them an appropriate alternative. They have not done so.

“Basildon Council has a duty to continue to try to negotiate an arrangement with the Dale Farm community. No one must be left homeless, or vulnerable to the numerous other human rights violations that are likely as a consequence of the eviction. 

“A forced eviction which violates international law and standards and calls the UK’s standing on human rights into question can, and must, be avoided.”

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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