Wednesday, July 13, 2005


For full report EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTER Greece Systematically Frustrates Fundamental Rights of Roma to Adequate Housing European Committee of Social Rights Rules Greece in Violation of Three Separate Aspects of the European Social Charter Athens, Strasbourg, Budapest, 8 June 2005. In a decision made public today in the matter of European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Greece, the European Committee of Social Rights held that the Greek policies with respect to housing and accommodation of Roma infringe Article 16 of the European Social Charter due to: # The insufficient number of dwellings of an acceptable quality to meet the needs of settled Roma; # The insufficient number of stopping places for Roma who choose to follow an itinerant lifestyle or who are forced to do so; # The systemic eviction of Roma from sites or dwellings unlawfully occupied by them. "This decision is among the first in Roma rights to find an entire field of policy and practice by a European government illegal," said Claude Cahn, Acting Executive Director of the ERRC, "It therefore marks a key turning point in our efforts to challenge the systemic human rights abuse of Roma in Europe." The decision comes as a result of a Collective Complaint lodged under the European Social Charter mechanism. The Collective Complaint, submitted in April 2003, alleged violations of the Charter by the Greek government, as a result of: # Extremely substandard housing prevailing among significant segments of the Greek Romani community; # Patterns and practices of forced eviction, unchecked by any of the safeguards specified by international law; # Enforced nomadism; # The near complete failure to implement housing policies in existence since 1996; # The criminal prosecution of Roma for "violating" a 1983 decree requiring local authorities to provide halting sites for nomads. In finding Greece in breach of the Charter, the Committee held, "The Committee finds that Greece has failed to take sufficient measures to improve the living conditions of the Roma and that the measures taken have not yet achieved what is required by the Charter, notably by reason of the insufficient means for constraining local authorities or sanctioning them. It finds on the evidence submitted that a significant number of Roma are living in conditions that fail to meet the minimum standards and therefore that the situation is in breach of the obligation to promote the right of families to adequate housing laid down in Article 16." Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson for the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), ERRC partner in documenting Roma rights issues in Greece, also welcomed the ruling: "This ruling finally vindicates our efforts -- repeatedly frustrated -- to bring the Greek government to act on its own policies on Romani housing. We look forward to seeing the decision implemented in full by Greek authorities." Commenting on the implications for housing rights matters in Europe, Senior Legal Officer of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) said, "This is truly a landmark decision for establishing housing rights in Europe. It will be a key precedent for future action."


Post a Comment

<< Home