French gypsies are the latest group of Roma to find themselves homeless, displaced to allow the development of sites for sports stadiums. Around 600 Romanian gypsies were cleared from around the Stade de France, in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. The Rugby World Cup opens there tonight. As in Greece, central government washed its hands of the decisions, saying that they were made by local authorities.
Several Roma sites were cleared in the preparations for the Athens Olympics and gypsies in the UK lost a High Court battle to remain on a site that was earmarked for the 2012 Olympic Village.
The UK gypsies were offered an alternative site nearby, and their plight was debated in the UK House of Lords on 17th July 2007. Gypsies in the UK currently have licences to occupy sites, rather than proper tenancies. These licences can be terminated at very short notice, leaving the gypsies without the protection that a tenant would normally enjoy. The law is likely to change in this respect. The government has indicated that the Housing and Regeneration Bill (likely to be introduced in November 2007) will deal with a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, Connors v UK. In this May 2004 decision, the Court found that the eviction of Mr Connors and his family, without the requisite procedural safeguards, was a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to protection for private and family life). It is hoped that the new legislation will provide more security of tenure for gypsies in the UK.
News of Judicial Review decision: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6620003.stm
House of Lords debate: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2007-07-17a.127.6
New legal provisions: Johnson, Chris, ‘Security of tenure for Gypsies and Travellers on local authority sites’, Legal Action Group Bulletin, September 2007