UK in breach of un rules over Dale Farm assaults
The UK is in continuing breach of international human rights law a meeting at Essex University on the aftermath of the brutal police-led assault on Dale Farm was told yesterday (6 June).
No less than five UN agencies raised their concern and opposition to the unprecedented use of force employed to level fifty homes and expel 80 families from their own land on the Dale Farm estate on 19 October last year.
Students and graduates heard that a police report confirmed that seven riot police were armed with and, in most cases, used Taser weapons on defenders in the first stages of the assault. More than 45 arrests were subsequently made.
However, two dozen cases have been dropped and a district judge has advised Basildon Borough Council against pursuing private prosecutions, on the grounds that a further waste of public money is unjustfied.
The clearance operation and legal action has so far cost in excess of 10 million euro.
Half those moved from the upper portion of the estate have lived for six months on a private access road. Others have taken refuge on some 40 legal plots. A lack of proper sanitation and toxidity released from cess-tanks left broken by contractors is believed to have contributed to the several hundred instances of illness among children and adults, confirmed by a Red Cross report.
Complaints to the Environmental Agency have prompted an ongoing investigation into claims that Basildon, prior to its purchase by the present owners, used Dale Farm as a landfil site. If substantiated, the council could be complelled to restore the land to its pre-landfill condition.
“Dale Farm represents a serious breach of human rights law,” Leticia Osorio, former director of Essex University Human Rights Clinic, stated. “The rules say those evicted should be provided immediate relief and restitution. This has not happened.”
But she conceded that while the UK is simply ignoring its obligations under international conventions, it was through domestic courts and the planning process that relief might have to be found. Shamefully, families were suffering while established authority did not more than delay.
A team at the University is working to complete an updated report for the UN Commission on Human Rights, UN Habitat and other bodies and agencies, including EU instituitions responsible for Roma and Traveller integration programmes.
Dale Farm residents, suppported by the Traveller Solidarity Network, plan to mark the anniversary of the eviction with protest action. They have always maintained that policy towards the community is based on racial prejudice and a determination to carry out ethnic-cleansing behind a smokescreen of planning law and alleged “even-handed fair play.”