Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Italy, Collective Complaint No. 58/2009

Complaint submitted by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) alleges violations of the right to adequate housing including forced eviction of Roma and Sinti communities in Italy as well as mass expulsion of Roma migrant workers; Obligation of non-retrogressive measures / progressive realization; Lack of protection and investigation of violence against Roma and Sinti groups; Right to protection against poverty and social exclusion.

Date of the Ruling: 
Jun 25 2010
European Committee on Social Rights
Type of Forum: 

The decision holds Italy accountable for policies and practices that have resulted in Roma and Sinti residents living in segregated and grossly inadequate housing conditions, as well as forced eviction of entire communities and expulsion of migrant Roma from Italy.  The case also held Italy accountable for the underlying racist and xenophobic climate created in Italy.  The European Committee of Social Rights found that Romani camps have been destroyed and their inhabitants forcibly evicted and often expelled from Italy by state police or other representatives of the public authority, often without notice and without the option of alternative housing.  Other camps in various regions throughout Italy have been the target of arson or vandalism based on racial hatred.  The perpetrators of these crimes have rarely been prosecuted or even investigated by local authorities.

The Committee found Italy in violation of several rights under the European Social Charter including the right of Roma and Sinti to adequate housing, to social, legal and economic protection, to protection against poverty and social exclusion, and the right of migrant Roma families to protection and assistance. The Committee read all of these substantive rights in conjunction with the Article E prohibition on discrimination. The decision also elaborated on the right to participation as a component of the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion (Article 30) and noted that there is a positive obligation on States to facilitate participation of citizens to overcome obstacles to representation.

Keywords: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Italy, Collective Complaint No. 58/2009, Migrant, Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

Part of this case was a used as a follow up to an earlier decision, ERRC v. Italy,[1] and challenged the deteriorating housing rights situation as retrogressive measures vis-à-vis the findings of fact and conclusions of law in ERRC v. Italy.  Additionally, COHRE v. Italy resulted in seminal jurisprudence by establishing an "aggravated violation" of the Revised European Social Charter when forced evictions specifically targeted racial or ethnic minorities and when, rather than public authorities attempting to stop violence by those carrying out forced evictions, it exacerbated that violence and the resulting forced evictions.  The result of a finding of "aggravated violation" was to expedite the case before both the European Committee of Social Rights and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe which works to enforce the decision.  An "aggravated violation" was also found in the context of underlying hate speech fostered by Italian authorities. COHRE v. Italy also resulted in seminal jurisprudence regarding the mass expulsion of migrant workers - finding that such expulsion was a violation of Article 19(8) of the Revised European Social Charter.

[1] European Committee of Social Rights, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Italy, Complaint No. 58/2009, decision on the merits of 6 July 2010.

Groups involved in the case: 

Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)

Significance of the Case: 

On 22 October 2010 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe considered the decision in COHRE v. Italy.  Due to the finding of "aggravated violations", the Committee of Ministers did so on an expedited basis.  During this consideration, the Government of Italy gave assurances that it would "ensure the effective implementation of the rights deriving from the revised European Social Charter for every individual, including for persons belong to the Roma communities."  This commitment was explicitly included in the Committee of Minister's resolution on the matter.[1]  The report from Italy was expected in January 2011, but has not yet been received.

[1] Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, resolution CM/ResChS(2010)8, Collective complaint No. 58/2009 by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) against Italy, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 21 October 2010 at the 1096th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies.