Conference on the Implementation and Harmonisation of National Policies for Roma, Sinti and Travellers: Guidelines for a Common Vision
4-5 May 2006
Bucharest, Romania

Presentation by Mrs. Catherine Beard, UK Association of Gypsy Women


2006 We live in a world full of technology; Technology so advanced it is sometimes unbelievable. Living in such an advanced world, you would never expect to find people living in squalor, Unable to find work or feed their families, families unable to access healthcare or education, No running water or sanitation.

Although the world has advanced, for many thousands of Roma their living conditions have deteriorated. Under the communist regimes they were treated more fairly, access to housing, education and healthcare were equal. They made the most of opportunities regarding education.

Many academics in education, medicine, law and other professions were the result thus proving they could rise to the challenge. The new democratic society they now find themselves living in has in effect changed all that.

The living conditions of the Roma and Travellers in Europe as a whole have worsened,
Evictions and constantly being moved on, without decent housing conditions, access to healthcare, education and employment becomes impossibility and takes its toll on everyone concerned.

Under the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights all residents regardless of race, gender or ethnicity have the rights to adequate housing and the right to be free from fear of eviction, In fact the committee on economic, social and cultural rights, the human rights body that oversees the implementation of the covenant has determined that any forced evictions may be considered a prima facie violation of the obligation under the covenant.

These rights enumerated in various regional human rights instruments; including a revised European social charter 19966.Article 31 explicitly protects the rights to housing,
Article 16 protects the rights to family life through the provision of housing, additionally,
The European convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms, under article 8 prohibits interference with the right to respect for a personís private and family life including their home. These rights are to be guaranteed and protected by state parties, again without distinction as to race, ethnicity, gender or any other classification.

Although the UK Government are trying to address the shortage of sites the Romany gypsies and Travellers evictions are still taking place of families from their own land
Their homes being bulldozed and destroyed without the offer of an alternative, causing untold trauma and stress to the families concerned, therefore we strongly urge the EU member states to fulfil their obligations under the human rights covenants.

The International Roma Womenís Network will continue to highlight the human rights violations of our people in Europe and work towards justice and equality and also by utilising our position in the European Roma Travellers Forum.

Last update: 26 May 2006