Year: 2009 (Date of Decision: 11 December, 2009)
Forum, Country: European Committee of Social Rights; Greece
Standards, Rights: Non-discrimination and equal protection of the law; Right to adequate housing; Ethnic minorities
Summary Background: A complaint was submitted by the International Center for the Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS), alleging that the Roma community in Greece face violations of their housing rights as well as suffer discrimination in access to housing. The applicants considered this to be in breach of article
Holding: The Committee held that Greece had failed to provide access to adequate housing to the Roma community despite a prior decision of the Committee that mandated progress in this respect [paras 35-37].
While the Committee recognized certain positive steps taken by the Greek government in ameliorating the living conditions of the Roma, including the development of non-discrimination legislation [para. 38], it emphasized that merely ensuring identical treatment as a means of protection against any discrimination was not sufficient. The State was required to respond to the unique circumstances of the Roma with discernment and take appropriate positive measures in order to achieve meaningful equality [para. 40].
The Committee thereafter examined the issue of forced evictions. Even when communities unlawfully occupy land, certain procedural guarantees must be complied with during the eviction process and these include proper justification for the evictions, adequate and reasonable notice, process conditions that respect the dignity of the affected, including consultations with the evictees prior to eviction, alternative accommodation and accessibility of legal remedies. However, the State did not properly respect procedural guarantees. In light of all the above, the Committee concluded that the State was in violation of the right to housing as protected within the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection under the Charter [paras 55-70].
Additional Comments: The case examines the duty of the State to respect, protect and fulfil the Right to Housing.
Link to Full Case: http://www.escr-net.org/node/365124