Eviction of travellers from land on which they had been settled for many years
Case of Winterstein and Others v. France (application no. 27013/07)
In the case of Winterstein and Others v. France (application no. 27013/07), which is not final , the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Court reserved in its entirety the question of the application of Article 41 (just satisfaction).
The case concerned eviction proceedings brought against a number of traveller families who had been living in the same place for many years. The domestic courts issued orders for the families’ eviction, on pain of penalty for non-compliance. Although the orders were not enforced, many of the families moved out. Only four families were provided with alternative accommodation in social housing; the so-called family sites where the remaining families were to be accommodated were not created.
The Court noted that the courts, despite acknowledging the lack of urgency and of any manifestly unlawful nuisance, had not taken into account the lengthy period for which the applicants had been settled, the municipal authorities’ toleration of the situation, the right to housing, the provisions of Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention and the Court’s case-law.
The Court pointed out in that connection that numerous international and Council of Europe instruments stressed the need, in cases of forced eviction of Roma or travellers, to provide the persons concerned with alternative accommodation. The national authorities had to take into account the fact that such applicants belonged to a vulnerable minority; this implied paying special consideration to their needs and their different way of life when it came to devising solutions to the unlawful occupation of land or deciding on possible alternative accommodation.
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