Date of the ruling (Decision on the merits) : December 8th 2004

Jurisdiction : European Committee of Social Rights - Council of Europe

Legal basis : Article 16 (right for the family to social, legal and economic protection) of the Revised European Social Charter.

The ERRC asked the Committee to find that the Government failed to apply in a satisfactory manner Article 16 of the Charter in light of the Preamble, on the grounds that the Roma were denied an effective right to housing, in that legislation discriminated against the Roma in housing matters, and in practice there was widespread discrimination against Roma and Roma were often the subject of forced evictions.  In particular the ERRC alleged that several Ministerial Decisions discriminated against Roma, regardless of whether they were itinerant or not. It was alleged, that it singled out persons of Roma origin through its use of the term Athinganoi. It, allegedly, had the effect of ensuring their residential segregation and therefore amounts to racial segregation. In addition it was submitted that it promoted their social exclusion and perpetuated their confinement to substandard housing.

The Committee considered that the complaint related to the right of Roma to housing and in particular to three elements: the insufficient number of permanent dwellings of an acceptable quality to meet the needs of the settled Roma / the insufficient number of stopping places for Roma who choose to follow an itinerant lifestyle or who are forced to do so / the systematic eviction of Roma from sites or dwellings unlawfully occupied by them.

Results and key consequences of the case : The Committee concluded that : the insufficiency of permanent dwellings, the lack of temporary stopping facilities and the forced eviction and other sanctions of Roma constituted violations of Article 16 of the Revised European Social Charter.

The Committee considered that Article 16 of the Revised European Social Charter provides for the right to housing of families as an element of the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection. Its interpretation of the right to housing under Article 16 is summarized here : "The Committee recalls its previous case law to the effect that in order to satisfy Article 16, states must promote the provision of an adequate supply of housing for families, take the needs of families into account in housing policies and ensure that existing housing be of an adequate standard and include essential services (such as heating and electricity). The Committee has stated that adequate housing refers not only to a dwelling which must not be sub-standard and must have essential amenities, but also to a dwelling of suitable size considering the composition of the family in residence. Furthermore the obligation to promote and provide housing extends to security from unlawful eviction”.

Concerning forced evictions, the Committee stated that "illegal occupation of a site or dwelling may justify the eviction of the illegal occupants. However the criteria of illegal occupation must not be unduly wide, the eviction should take place in accordance with the applicable rules of procedure and these should be sufficiently protective of the rights of the persons concerned."


To learn more :

To read the full case, click here.

To read the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers, click here.




Council of Europe - Committee of Social Rights - European Social Charter
Article 16 - The right of the family to social, legal and economic protection
Squats and slums
Right to housing