Told to move on: Forced evictions of Roma in France

Report
October 8, 2013

Told to move on: Forced evictions of Roma in France

French President François Hollande had condemned the practice of forced evictions during the 2012 presidential election campaign. In April 2012, when he was standing as a candidate, he had responded to several of Amnesty International's concerns about human rights in France. He had stressed that, "We must find solutions in order to reconcile the principles of respect for private property, the security of individuals and the force of resjudicata with the duty to integrate these populations. I believe that it is essential to avoid putting extremely vulnerable populations out on the street. When an unsanitary settlement is dismantled, I would like alternative solutions to be proposed. Measures to provide social assistance in every area will be necessary so long as these populations live in undignified conditions".

Since coming to power in May 2012, the new French go vernment has adopted several measures that seek to regulate evictions from informal settlements, including an interministerial circular "concerning the anticipation of and provision of social assistance for eviction operations affecting unauthorized settlements" ( "relative à l'anticipation et à l'accompagnement des opérations d'évacuation des campements illicites"). This circular was sent to all Prefects on 26 August 2012, supplying them with optional instructions to follow with regard to dismantling operations. The mission of coordinating government action on this issue was entrusted to the Délégation interministérielle à l'hébergement et à l'accès au logement (DIHAL), the Interministerial delegation for accommodation and access to housing, headed by Prefect Alain Régnier. Within this framework, a practical methodology and reference guide was published for the attention of services at the level of the départements [French administrative regions], funds were made available to finance anticipatory and social assistance projects related to the eviction of settlements and squats, and consultations are continuing to take place regularly with the local no n-government organizations (NGOs) and authorities concerned.

However, one year on, despite the measures taken by the government, Amnesty International has found that migrant Roma are still being subjected to forced evictions; they are still being repeatedly chased out of their living spaces without being adequately consulted, informed or rehoused, in breach of France's international commitments. No effective safeguards to prevent forced evictions have been put in place, and the situation on the ground shows that, in fact, the measures taken by the government so far are insufficient to remedy this violation of international human rights law. Furthermore, the government's avowed dual goal of firmness and humanity sometimes leads to inconsiste ncies, meaning that in some cases efforts to provide support are cancelled out by repeated evictions.