Travellers’ treatment concerns Council of Europe / News / The Foreigner

Travellers’ treatment concerns Council of Europe. COE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks and Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland advocate better treatment for this group. In his comment, the Commissioner states that “it is time to counter deep-rooted hostility” regarding travellers. He cites an incident that occurred in Dublin last October. 10 people died in a fire which broke out in a Travellers’ site near the southern Ireland city. Commissioner Muižnieks says that neighbours prevented authorities’ efforts to provide alternative accommodation to the group’s surviving members by blockingroads leading to the new site nearby.

travellers, roma, gypsies, europe, hatespeech, paywall



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Travellers’ treatment concerns Council of Europe

Published on Thursday, 4th February, 2016 at 16:19 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .

COE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks and Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland advocate better treatment for this group.

The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe
Photo: Ellen Wuibaux/©Council of Europe


In his comment, the Commissioner states that “it is time to counter deep-rooted hostility” regarding travellers. He cites an incident that occurred in Dublin last October. 10 people died in a fire which broke out in a Travellers’ site near the southern Ireland city.

Commissioner Muižnieks says that neighbours prevented authorities’ efforts to provide alternative accommodation to the group’s surviving members by blockingroads leading to the new site nearby.

“Sadly, this episode illustrates well how deep-rooted hostility against those identified as Travellers, Gypsies, Roma, Manouches, Sinti, Romani/Taters or Yenish, still affects the lives of these persons in many countries where they live,” he states, listing countries including Belgium, France, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK.

Norway on the list

The Commissioner has expressed concern regarding how the Roma community in Oslo is treated in his report on Norway. In 2012, an investigation was launched into 10 of 24 complaints regarding the Norwegian Police Force’s handling of the homeless Roma People.

Norwegian school textbooks’ coverage of ethnic groups is also said to be uneven. Moreover, forced sterilisation and lobotomising of Romani people was high on the agenda in Norway at one time.

Talking of the history of Travellers in Europe, COE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks mentions that it “is marked by persecutions, expulsions and rights violations aimed at forced sedentarisation and at eradicating their culture and way of life.”

“Measures targeting Travellers have included the removal of children from the custody of their parents, limitations to freedom of movement, and confiscations of caravans. The effects of past policies are still felt today.”

Authorities in various countries continue to implement policies forcing Travellers to move to settled accommodation, often in poor conditions, according to Commissioner Muižnieks.

“They [authorities] also fail to acknowledge the specific identity and culture of Travellers, including those who have adopted a sedentary way of life. Travellers’ contribution to the history and culture of European countries is overlooked,” he comments – incumbent Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has apologised for both thetreatment of, and governmental policies which had had fatal consequences for the Norwegian Roma during the Holocaust.

“Crucial”

Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe and former Prime Minister of Norway, also raises concern regarding the Romani people. His statements come following reports that French police cleared hundreds of Roma in Paris.

“It is crucial that the French authorities provide all those who have been forced to leave the “Petite ceinture” camp - including children and elderly people – with adequate, alternative accommodation, particularly as they have decided to take this action during winter,” Secretary General Jagland says in a statement. He adds that some 11,000 Roma were evicted from their homes in France in last year,

Secretary General Jagland refers to a case in the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (Winterstein and Others v. France). It concerned eviction proceedings brought against families of Travellers who had lived in the same place for many years.

The orders issued by domestic courts for the families’ eviction, on pain of penalty for non-compliance, were not enforced. However, many of the families moved out, and only four families were provided with alternative accommodation in social housing.

Ten remaining families were to be accommodated at so-called family sites, but these were never set up. In its judgement, the Court found that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to respect for private and family life and home), amongst other factors.

“There is no evidence to suggest that a policy of mass forced eviction will bring a lasting solution to the exclusion and prejudice many Roma face,” states COE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

Counter-productive

“On the contrary, forced evictions can prove counter-productive as they often disrupt the schooling of Roma children and hamper the efforts of those who provide basic healthcare to Roma communities, for example through vaccination campaigns,” he concludes.

Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks makes several recommendations regarding how to ameliorate the treatment of Travellers. These include:

  • Eliminating all discriminatory provisions regulating the life of persons living in caravans
  • Authorities should firmly condemn all instances of racist statements against Travellers
  • Hate speech directed against Travellers should be adequately prosecuted and sanctioned
  • Further research and awareness-raising concerning the history of Travellers – this can help to dispel long-standing prejudices and stop continued human rights violations against the members of these groups
  • The specific culture, identity and way of life of Travellers should be fully acknowledged
  • Resolute steps should be taken to increase the number and quality of sites available to Travellers, whether transient or long-term


Published on Thursday, 4th February, 2016 at 16:19 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .

This post has the following tags: travellers, roma, gypsies, europe, hatespeech, paywall.





  
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