The United Nations committee tasked with combating racial discrimination today voiced deep regret at the insistence by United Kingdom authorities that Gypsy and Irish Traveller families in the county of Essex will be evicted with no culturally appropriate alternative accommodation provided to them.
“We call on the Government to suspend the planned eviction, which would disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people,” said members of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in a statement responding to the decision to evict the families from Dale Farm in Essex.
“We urge the authorities to find a peaceful and appropriate solution, including identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the rights of the families involved,” they said.
The Dale Farm issue had been extensively discussed with the UK delegation during the course of the Committee’s review of the country’s combined 18th, 19th and 20th reports of compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
In March last year, the Committee sent a letter to the UK under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure on the matter, expressing its concern, seeking clarification and calling for protection of the human rights of the families.
The Committee said the evictions may be in breach of the Convention’s provisions and are inconsistent with the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 27 (2000) on Discrimination against Roma.
“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 of the issues,” the Committee added.