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Belgium: International Human Rights Organization to File Complaint over Treatment of Roma

(Sept. 29, 2010) The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues will file a complaint against Belgium before the Council of Europe Social Rights Committee over Belgium's treatment of Roma and “travelers” (La Belgique poursuivie au Conseil de l'Europe pour son traitement des roms, LEMONDE.FR (Sept. 20, 2010),
). The complaint will be based on violation of the European Social Charter and will focus on the lack of housing and legislation that would provide for a better reception of Roma. (Id; for a definition of Roma, see, for example, Commission Staff Working Document, Roma in Europe: The Implementation of European Union Instruments and Policies for Roma Inclusion – Progress Report 2008-2010 (SEC(2010) 400 final) (Apr. 7, 2010), at 3, fn. 3,

In an interview given to the daily LE SOIR, Veronique van der Plancke, Vice President of the Belgian Human Rights League, stated that “the Belgian state, to various degrees in its three regions, clearly violates the European Social Charter.” She added that “local regulations, such as the one prohibiting vehicles from staying longer than 24 hours in the same place, do not meet the concrete needs of the travelers.” In addition, she stressed the lack of areas reserved to the Roma and travelers for setting up their camps. (LE MONDE.FR, supra.)

Since 2004, four countries have been condemned by the Council of Europe Social Rights Committee for their laws and practices towards Roma: Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, and finally France, in 2009. (Id).

The European Social Charter was adopted in 1961 and amended in 1996. It guarantees social and economic human rights to the citizens of the Council of Europe's 47 Member States. Its implementation is monitored by the European Social Rights Committee. (Council of Europe, European Social Charter, (last visited Sept. 24, 2010).)