Press release: United Nations calls on government to suspend the eviction of Dale Farm

United Nations calls on government to suspend the eviction of Dale Farm

2 September 2011

The United Nations has issued a strongly worded statement ‘expressing its deep regret at the insistence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland authorities to proceed with the eviction of Gypsy and Traveller Families at the Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing culturally appropriate accommodation.’

‘The Committee calls on the State party to suspend the planned eviction which would disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people, and create hardship, until culturally appropriate accommodation is identified and provided. The Committee urges the State party to find a peaceful and appropriate solution which fully respects the rights of the families involved. Travellers and Gypsies already face considerable discrimination and hostility in wider society and the Committee is deeply concerned that this could be worsened by actions taken by authorities in the current situation and by some media reporting on the issues.’

Richard Sheridan, President of the Gypsy Council and a resident at Dale Farm, addressed the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee during its examination of the UK in Geneva on 23 – 24 August. Amnesty International has also called on the UK authorities to stop the planned eviction in Essex that would leave 86 Irish Traveller families homeless or without adequate alternative housing, in contravention of international law. This provides that forced eviction can only be used as a last resort after consultation with those to be evicted and the provision of culturally-appropriate alternative accommodation. Neither of these provisions in international law has been upheld by Basildon Council. Bishop Thomas McMahon and Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Diocese of Chelmsford also called for time to find a solution, and offered to mediate, an offer that hasn’t been taken up by Basildon Council.

Two sites in the Basildon district have been proposed by the Homes and Communities Agency, a government agency, as possible alternative sites for Dale Farm residents. However Basildon Council intend to push ahead with the forced eviction before planning applications are considered on these sites in October.

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