FRANCE: New report reveals forced evictions continue at an 'alarming rate' in Hollande's France
François Hollande is failing to adequately deliver on his pre-election promises to protect the rights of migrant Roma, a new report by Amnesty International reveals today. The report goes on to demand an immediate stop all forced evictions in the country.
In March this year, shortly before his election as president, François Hollande had said his wish was “that when an unsanitary camp is dismantled, alternative solutions are proposed”. He added that: “We cannot continue to accept that families are chased from a place without a solution.”
But Amnesty’s new 63-page report “Chased away”: Forced evictions of Roma in the Ile-de-France highlights the failure of the new government to incorporate international human rights standards on evictions into domestic law. As a consequence, forced evictions continue to take place without prior information, consultation or notice to residents.
John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty, explained:
“The new French government has taken some positive steps in relation to the situation of migrant Roma. Its tone and approach have improved, relative to previous years in which Roma were often openly stigmatised by the government. However, the practice of forced evictions has continued at the same alarming rate as before.
“In most cases, alternative housing is not provided and entire families are left homeless. They have no choice but to re-establish their homes in another informal settlement elsewhere, and schooling and medical treatment are interrupted as a result.”
Most of the estimated 15,000 migrant Roma living in France come from Romania, and some from Bulgaria; almost all are fleeing chronic poverty and discrimination in their countries of origin.
There is a chronic shortage of adequate housing and emergency shelter for all who need it in France, but Roma – the victims of prejudice and discrimination in France as much as elsewhere in Europe – are particularly vulnerable to violations of their internationally guaranteed right to adequate housing.
The camps and squats visited by Amnesty researchers varied in size and in services provided. However, at all of the inhabitants’ health was at serious risk due to the absence of, or inadequate access to, running water, toilets and refuse collection. They were also often infested by rats. Repeated forced evictions do not resolve these problems, they exacerbate them.
There have been some positive initiatives in certain regional departments to minimise the impact of forced evictions. However, evictions continue throughout the country in violation of France’s obligations under international law.
John Dalhuisen added:
“Under international law France is obliged to guarantee the right to adequate housing without discrimination and to prevent forced evictions. This means that the French authorities must immediately stop all evictions until all the international human rights safeguards can be guaranteed to all inhabitants of informal settlements.”
1. Constantin, 39, has been living in France for 20 years, during which time he has been evicted on average twice a year and expelled to Romania three times. He spent 18 months with his wife and two Children's rights in an informal settlement in La Courneuve. Amnesty delegates met him on 21 September 2012, three days after a bailiff had given him an immediate order to leave the premises. He says there was no consultation of any sort.
2. "It's very hard to move from place to place. We can't even stay for a bit. As soon as I hear I'm going, it's like, I feel my heart ache," Maria, a Roma woman living in a warehouse in Sucy-en-Brie, told Amnesty.
3. Carmen, 27, has an eight-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. She lived in a makeshift cabin in Villeneuve-le-Roi until she was forcibly evicted on 11 September 2012. She was offered two nights of emergency accommodation in a hotel. The police did not let her collect her belongings during the eviction and she had to walk for hours with her Children's rights and luggage to reach the hotel. When Amnesty researchers met her on September 22, she was living in a two-person tent with her husband and two Children's rights in an informal settlement in Champs-sur-Marne. There was no access to water or toilets on the camp, and none of the Children's rights were registered in school. On 16 October 2012, a bailiff was sent to distribute an eviction court summons to the inhabitants of the settlement as it was on private property. The hearing is scheduled for 27 November 2012 in the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Meaux.