European countries should stop chasing Roma and start including them, Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has said.
In his latest Human Rights Comment, Mr. Muižnieks said that while the situation of Roma has been largely debated in Europe in recent years, this attention for the situation of the most discriminated minority in Europe has not been matched by much concrete action by governments.
European countries continue too often to resort to old methods of dealing with this pressing human rights issue, as the increasing evictions of thousands of Roma throughout Europe show, Mr. Muižnieks said.
In France close to 5,000 Roma have reportedly been evicted from their settlements between July and September 2012. The inter-ministerial circular released last August requesting that authorities provide the evicted persons with adequate alternative housing has in most cases not brought any relief to the families concerned, who are often left to sleep rough in Paris, Marseille and other French cities.
In Italy, forced evictions continued, despite the government’s commitment to stopping the “nomad emergency” policy. Only last September in Rome, 250 persons were evicted without being offered any alternative other than moving to ethnically segregated settlements.
In the Czech Republic, Roma families were evicted in the summer of 2012 from run-down buildings in Ostrava in which they had lived for many years. They were relocated to residential hotels considered by social services to be unsuitable for children. The frequent evictions of Roma from public housing in some Czech regions have led many Roma families to lead a de facto itinerant life against their will.
In Belgrade, Serbia, 1,000 Roma were forcibly evicted in April 2012 from the settlement of Belvil. Some of them had to move to other cities, and others were relocated into containers in the periphery of Belgrade, with no access to work, health and other basic services.
In the United Kingdom, Travellers who were evicted from their own land in Dale Farm, Essex, in October 2011 have again been served with eviction notices. They are now being asked to leave the private roadside settlement they have been occupying since their eviction. They say that they have nowhere else to go and fear the approaching winter.