UN Committee calls for suspension of forced evictions from Dale Farm

In a statement released this afternoon, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), called on the UK government to suspend the planned eviction of Dale Farm residents and to ensure “a peaceful and appropriate solution, including identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the rights of the families involved”.

Concluding that the proposed eviction would leave residents of Dale Farm without alternative culturally adequate accommodation, the CERD also noted that the eviction would disproportionately affect Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, Children's rights and older residents.

The findings echo concerns Amnesty has voiced. Welcoming the announcement, Tim Hancock, Campaigns Director at Amnesty International UK, said:

"The UN Committee's statement on Dale Farm gives the lie to the government's position that this is a matter for Basildon Council and the Essex Constabulary. Central and local authorities have a duty to comply with international human rights law and standards. The planned eviction of the Irish Traveller families has now become an international issue that is putting the UK to shame.

"The UN has now given the UK the clearest of warnings that the evictions of the Travellers from Dale Farm may constitute a breach of international law on non-discrimination as the rights of the families involved are not being respected.

"This is a welcome further intervention by the UN, which follows earlier warnings from UN experts that if Basildon Council were to proceed with the eviction as planned, they would violate the Irish Traveller residents’ right to adequate housing."

You can read the statement in full, here http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds79.htm

On 31 August, the High Court of England and Wales refused an emergency application by lawyers acting for some residents of Dale Farm who were seeking a court order to stop the 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.

Some residents in the ‘unauthorized’ portion have lived there for over 11 years, and told Amnesty International that they have never before lived in one place for that long without being forcibly evicted or ‘moved on’ by police. Several residents said that the Council has not provided a culturally adequate alternative, and feared that their extended family would be destroyed as some of them would be required to live in “bricks and mortar” housing rather than caravans.

Amnesty International is still calling on the UK authorities to stop the planned eviction in Essex that would leave up to 86 Irish Traveller families homeless or without adequate alternative housing, and if an eviction is unavoidable, to provide displaced residents with adequate alternative housing that allows them to express their cultural identity.

View latest press releases