ERRC v Italy - Equal Rights Trust

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Italy (Complaint no. 27/2004)
1) Reference Details
Jurisdiction: European Committee of Social Rights
Date of Decision: 21 December 2005
Case Status: Decided on merits
Link to full case:
2) Facts
The ERRC alleged that the housing situation of Roma in Italy amounted to a violation of
the right to housing, and that segregationist policies and practices in the field of housing
constituted racial discrimination. The ERRC alleged that Roma were denied an effective
right to housing because of the shortage and inadequacy of living conditions in camping
sites. It also alleged that forced evictions of Roma are common and that Roma have no
access to housing other than on camping sites. It argued that the right to housing and the
principle of non-discrimination were violated by all three issues.
3) Law
The ERRC alleged infringement of Article 31 (right to housing) and Article E (nondiscrimination) of the revised European Social Charter (1996).
4) Legal Arguments
The Complainant
The ERRC maintained that Roma camping sites failed to meet adequate living standards
and amounted to deliberate segregation by the Italian authorities. It was also put
forward that the practice of forced evictions, threats of eviction, systematic destruction
of property and invasion of Roma dwellings by authorities was in violation of Article 31
in combination with Article E. The ERRC argued that the Italian authorities’ policy of
dismantling inadequate and overcrowded camping sites was not accompanied by any
measures to offer alternative housing, and that Roma were largely denied access to
social housing in general, again amounting to discrimination.
The Government
The Government argued that the “inadequacies” of the camping sites arose from the
setting up of unauthorised camps or introduction of new residents who were not
originally catered for into authorised camps by the Roma, and as such the authorities
could not be held responsible. It also stated that the authorities made attempts to
transfer persons to more appropriate accommodation during evictions, and that social
housing is available to anyone fulfilling certain objective criteria.
5) Decision
The Committee concluded unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 31 in
conjunction with Article E, citing the inadequacy and insufficiency of camping sites,
forced evictions and sanctions, and the lack of permanent dwellings. In its reasoning the
Committee considered that Article E established an obligation to ensure that any group
benefits in practice from the rights in the Charter, and that the Government had failed to
take due and positive account of all relevant differences, and take adequate steps to
ensure Roma had access to all rights and collective benefits, thereby indirectly
discriminating against Roma communities. It also considered that Italy had failed to
produce credible evidence to refute the claims that Roma had suffered unjustified
violence during evictions.