Forced evictions of Roma people in France have reached record proportions, Amnesty International revealed in a new report published today (26 September). The findings come despite promises made last year by the new French government to end the vicious circle of repeated forced evictions of Roma.
When President Francois Hollande came to power last year, he promised a change in tone and policy regarding Roma but there has been little change on the ground and forced evictions have continued at an alarming rate, says Amnesty.
More than 10,000 Roma were evicted from informal settlements in France during the first half of 2013.
The new government have produced guidance on steps to be taken prior to and during evictions. It also set up an inter-ministerial commission to coordinate policies, but it is a body Amnesty believes lacks “teeth or political weight”.
Amnesty’s report, Told to move on: Forced evictions of Roma in France, details several cases and assesses recent developments one year after the publication of the guidance.
Adela, a 26-year-old, a mother of four has lived through 15 forced evictions in the ten years she has lived in France. She said: “If there is no alternative housing, if they cannot do anything to help us, then why don’t they let us stay here? We have nowhere to go, we cannot sleep on the street like homeless people.”
Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, John Dalhuisen, added: “France makes no provisions for effective protection against forced evictions. In most cases they take place in a climate of hostility with no alternative housing proposed. Roma people have been condemned to a life of constant insecurity, wandering from one makeshift camp to another. Forced evictions should be banned in law.
"Roma continue to be driven out of their homes, without being appropriately consulted and informed. Often, they are left with no choice but to seek shelter in informal settlements elsewhere.
“The French government must respect its international commitments and implement effective protection measures against the practice of forced evictions.
“The new measures are not intended to stop forced evictions and fall short of international human rights standards. The guidelines are discretionary and inconsistently applied. The inter-ministerial commission has no teeth or political weight. Despite good intentions, its efforts are continually undermined by the overall drive to evict no matter what.”
A quarter of the Roma population lives in the Lille and Lyon regions.
There are some 20,000 Roma migrants living in France mostly from Romania, Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia. Almost all of them are fleeing the chronic poverty and discrimination they face in their home countries.
At the beginning of the summer, an Amnesty delegation visited the largest informal Roma camp in Lille. There were about 800 people living there.
On 11 September 2013 they were evicted. So far, the local authorities have found housing for less than a dozen families. The vast majority of the evicted Roma have resettled in informal settlements in neighbouring municipalities.
Amnesty is calling for all forced evictions to be banned by law and the inter-ministerial guidance to be amended to ensure that proper consultation takes place. The organisation says Roma communities should receive adequate information about evictions in reasonable time and be provided with alternative accommodation so that no one is rendered homeless.