Government accused of violating Traveller rights

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The Government is failing to safeguard the human rights of the UK's Gypsy and Traveller population, the Council of Europe has said, in a damning letter to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and seen by this newspaper.

The Council's Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg – who writes in The Independent today – singles out the forced eviction of hundreds of Travellers from Dale Farm in Essex last year as a "highly regrettable" incident that violated international human rights conventions and condemns the subsequent failure to resettle them adequately.

Local authority cuts to the number of Traveller sites, enabled by the Government's Localism Bill, had contributed to a violation of Travellers' rights to adequate housing, enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, the Commissioner says.

"The events of October 2011 at Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex... powerfully illustrates these concerns," he adds.