Salvini’s Italy Sentenced by ECHR to Provide Housing for Evicted Roma

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has decided to apply an urgent measure in the case P.H. and Others v. Italy (application no. 25838/19) concerning three Bosnian citizens of Roma ethnicity who were evicted with their minor children from a settlement in Ponte Riccio in April 2019. The applicants are three Bosnian citizens of Roma ethnicity who were living with their families in a settlement in Ponte Riccio (Giugliano). Two of them are mothers with 10 children altogether, who are minors aged between two and 16.

The Court has ordered the Italian Government to provide suitable accommodation for Romani families who were forcibly evicted from Giugliano last week. The court recognised the right to family unity and the need to provide adequate housing to Romani families. The emergency case was brought before the court by Associazione 21 luglio and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).

Background

On 5 April 2019 the Mayor of Giugliano issued Decree no. 29, ordering that all the settlement’s inhabitants (around 450 Romani People) residing in the Via del Vaticale camp in the Municipality of Giugliano be evicted for reasons of public health and safety. The municipality issued a resolution for alternative housing solutions for Roma, but no proposal was ever made to the families.

On the morning of 10 May 2019, law enforcement arrived and forced the families to leave the settlement on Via del Vaticale. According to numerous testimonies gathered, both before and during the eviction, the Roma had been verbally ordered to leave the Giugliano area and threatened that if they refused, their residence would be cancelled and their children taken into state care (!). The 450 Roma ended up occupying an abandoned area in the Giugliano industrial area, where they remain today.

The new location is totally inadequate

The 73 families currently camped in that area have no shelter, and are forced to sleep inside cars or outdoors, despite the difficult weather conditions. They have no access to electricity and are without clean water or toilets. The 105 children who were attending school were forced to interrupt their school attendance.

Associazione 21 luglio called an immediate press conference at the Chamber’s Press Room and an online appeal to denounce the rights violated by the authorities during the forced eviction, including the rights of these children to an education. They called on the Municipality of Giugliano for an urgent intervention offering adequate solutions and dignified housing for all persons, guaranteeing them access to basic services, and the re-establishment of school attendance for school-age children and, alongside the ERRC, promoted recourse to the European Court of Human Rights.

On 17 May, the decision came from the European Court in Strasbourg which forces the Italian Government to guarantee adequate housing for minors and their families who were evicted from Via del Viaticale.

Organisations‘ comments

Carlo Stasolla from Associazione 21 luglio, who had who had been on hunger strike since 12.5.2019, ended his protest on receiving the court’s decision. He said „This is a victory for marginalised communities all across Italy who, especially in the last year, have had their basic human rights repeatedly attacked. In the situation of Giugliano, Associazione 21 luglio was the first to report the systematic violation of rights and support the families who proposed the appeal to the European Court. For the last 30 years, Roma in Giugliano have been trapped in a vicious cycle of forced evictions, black mail, and fear. Today, Europe has lit a lighthouse that illuminates the whole of Italy and which we all have a duty to keep on: the lighthouse of anti-discrimination and of equal rights guaranteed in articles 2 and 3 of the Italian Constitution that no one, in any capacity, can claim the presumption of extinguishing.“

Jonathan Lee of the European Roma Rights Centre said: „This decision breaks a long-standing cycle of forced evictions which have long plagued this community, and Roma as a whole in Italy. When authorities uproot Romani families, they know it means kids will have to drop out of school, that know that parents will lose work, that the family will be forced to start from scratch, but they do it anyway. The Court has shown today that Italy is not above the law, and cannot indiscriminately make Roma homeless. These people have won a great victory against discrimination, and against the politics of hate, which perpetuates the exclusion of Roma in Italy.“

***

Measures under Rule 39 of the ECHR Rules of Court are decided in connection with proceedings before the Court, without prejudging any subsequent decisions on the admissibility or merits of the case. The Court grants such requests only on an exceptional basis, when the applicants would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm. For further information, see the factsheet on interim measures.

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