Traveller Law Database

Hirtu and others v. France (Application no. 24720/13) 

Date of Decision: Thu, 14 May 2020
Decision Making Body: European Court of Human Rights
Law Applied: European Convention on Human Rights
Keywords: Right to Privacy, Discrimination, Roma people, ECHR Article 3, ECHR Article 8, ECHR Article 13
Full Case Details - Download Full Judgment (pdf)

The Roma applicants claimed that their enforced evictions from a camp where they had been residing for six months breached Art 3 (Freedom from Inhuman or Degrading Treatment), Art 8 (Right to Private and Family life), and Art 13 (Effective Remedy). The Court ruled that although there had been no breach of Article 3, there had been a violation of Articles 8, and 13 owing to the absence of a proportionality assessment of the evictions. The ECtHR further finding a breach of Article 13 owing to the applicants’ inability to obtain a judicial review of the domestic decisions. 


In March 2013, the local Council ordered a group of Roma illegally settled in Seine-Saint-Denis, France to move on. They had to vacate the premises within 48 hours or be forcibly evicted. The reasoning given by the Council were that a lack of amenities on the site was causing a health risk, as well as creating a general nuisance to the town’s inhabitants. The order was based on the French “Besson Law” which applies to Roma who settles without a permit on a site. 


The Roma applicants had lived in this camp since October 2012. Originally from Romania, most of them had had 10-year visas to remain in France and had children going to school in the area.  


One person living on the site took a case to the Administrative Tribunal and argued that the notice was violating Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR. The Magistrate dismissed the case. An appeal was submitted, and the Appeal Tribunal found that there was no breach of Article 3 ECHR, as the camp was a source of health hazards, nuisance, and was disturbing the peace in the area. An application to the Court of Cassation (French higher appellate Court) was also unsuccessful.  


In April 2013, three other residents from the site, argued that the eviction notice was in breach of Articles 3 and 8 ECHR and asked for the eviction date to be moved to July to have time to find new living arrangements. This application was subsequently refused. The applicants appealed the decision at a later date but did not pursue the appeal as they had already been evicted by this point.  


When finding out about the eviction notice, many of the Roma residents, including the applicants, had vacated the original site and moved to another nearby. However, fifty armed police officers accompanied by police dogs subsequently arrived to evict them from this site. During this further eviction, the Police threatened them, and seized many of the caravans including the named applicants’ belongings. The applicants did not have alternative accommodation and were required to sleep in cars or alternate sites despite requesting accommodation from the relevant authorities.  


The applicant’s submitted their complaint to the ECtHR, submitting that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and the home), and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) as a result of their enforced eviction and inability to effectively challenge the eviction proceedings and absence of a proportionality assessment. 


ECtHR’s findings: 


Article 3: Freedom from Inhuman or Degrading Treatment: 

the ECtHR found that the circumstances of the eviction and the applicant’s subsequent living conditions did not amount to inhuman or degrading treatment meeting the standard required under Art 3 of amounting to inhuman or degrading treatment. The Court finding that the conditions of the eviction, including the presence of police officers with dogs did not meet this standard. The Court further recognising, that owing to their unlawful occupation of municipal land, that the authorities had been entitled in principle to evict the applicants who thus could not claim to have a legitimate expectation of remaining there. 


Article 8: Right to Private and Family life: 

The Court recognised that the notice followed by the eviction was in breach of the applicants’ right to private life. This was owing to their status as an underprivileged social group, which imposed a duty on the authorities to conduct a proportionality assessment of the eviction. The ECtHR found that authorities had failed to do so. As no alternative accommodation was provided (and the authorities had seized their caravans) the Court found that the disproportionate nature of the applicants’ eviction had violated Article 8.  


Article 13: Right to Effective Remedy: 


The applicants further claimed a breach of Article 13 of the Convention, in conjunction with the aforementioned Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention. The applicants argued that the dismissal of the administrative tribunal prevented their access to a competent tribunal that would have examined the legality and enforceability of the eviction notice. The Court noted that as there had been no judicial consideration of the applicants’ arguments under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention, either in proceedings on the merits  or under the urgent procedure, that this resulted in a violation of the right to effective remedy under Article 13. 


The applicant also claimed a breach of Article 14 of the Convention and Article 2 of Protocol 1 to the Convention. The Court dismissed the claims as the applicant had not expressly made a claim about such breach.  



The Court unanimously held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and the home), and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

Partner Organisations