Lawsuit against municipality of The Hague over violation of human rights of Roma, Sinti and Travellers

Roma, Sinti and Travellers in The Hague today started a lawsuit to ensure that the municipality of The Hague stops violating the human rights of this community. With these proceedings, the community, united in the foundation Sinti, Roma Travellers and supported by lawyers of PILP-NJCM and Houthoff, want to achieve that this community in The Hague have a real prospect of living in a mobile home and the opportunity to exercise their shared culture.

For years, The Hague has had an ‘extinction policy’ for mobile home sites. This policy was discriminatory and in violation of human rights. This is because the government has a human rights duty to ensure that Roma, Sinti and Travellers can continue to experience their culture and not to tear it down. That culture includes living in a mobile home. The Dutch government itself explicitly recognised this in 2018, after the government was challenged on this by Roma, Sinti, Travellers, (inter)national experts and lawyers.

Due to the extinction policy, there are fewer and fewer mobile home sites in The Hague. The enormous scarcity and the infinitely long waiting list for mobile home sites was therefore (consciously) created by the municipality. The most serious human rights violations of the extinction policy relate to the forced eviction of some 110 mobile home sites (including the eviction of the Escamplaan site between 2006 and 2010). This policy decision has never been reversed.

The Netherlands Human Rights Institute ruled on 7 December 2020 that the situation in The Hague racially discriminates against Roma, Sinti and Travellers. Indeed, their situation is so much worse than the already long waiting times for social housing, that the Roma, Sinti and Travellers do not have a real prospect at living in a mobile home. The Institute also ruled that The Hague had not taken sufficient steps to change its policy since 2018.

Tamara Posthuma, local Traveller and affiliated with the foundation, cannot live in a mobile home herself.
She says: “It makes my mother very sad and hopeless. It is recognised that our culture deserves protection, yet we cannot live amongst family in our traditional way as it has been done for generations.”

Several times in recent years, the municipality has been reminded by the community of its obligation to undo the consequences of previous discriminatory policies. However, the municipality has done (virtually) nothing in this regard. Therefore, the community ask the court to rule that the municipality of The Hague is discriminating and acting unlawfully by not adjusting the extinction policy and by doing nothing to realise more mobile home sites. The Roma, Sinti and Travellers are also asking the court to order the municipality to realise enough new mobile home sites.  They are supported in the court case by PILP-NJCM human right lawyers and lawyers from Houthoff.

For years, PILP-NJCM has worked together with Roma, Sinti and Travellers in the Netherlands to try to protect their human rights. As such, PILP-NJCM has been involved with several court cases against the extinction policy, has been researching and distributing information about the human rights of the community, and has been advising the community, attorneys, and civil servants in relation to Roma, Sinti and Traveller mobile home location policies in the Netherlands.
PILP-NJCM has, together with Houthoff, also successfully intervened on behalf and with Roma Sinti and Traveller’s organisations TUN and VSRWN, in demanding the government to change the extinction policy in 2018 and make it human rights proof. The case against The Hague is the first follow up case that PILP-NJCM starts on the lack implementation of this new governmental policy.

For more information about the extinction policy regarding mobile home sites see here, for the summons (in Dutch) see here.