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The right to housing is essential in a democratic society, says Commissioner Hammarberg

Strasbourg, France, 30.06.2009 - “The right to housing is of central importance to the effective enjoyment of most human rights. States should ensure their implementation, in particular in times of economic crisis” said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, issuing a recommendation on housing rights.

“Many people across Europe are experiencing a great housing need which is exacerbated by the current economic crisis. Significant numbers of people cannot access housing in the market while others have nowhere to live or live inplaces unfit for human habitation. Among those facing major difficulties are Roma and Travellers, victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons, tenants without security, certain national minorities and other discriminated groups, as well as people on the lowest parts of the labour market.”

The Commissioner stresses that the international obligations on the right to housing must be recognised in appropriate ways in domestic law. “Remedies or means of redress must be available to individuals or groups aggrieved by the denial of housing rights.” Furthermore, Commissioner Hammarberg calls for a sound governmental accountability both at national and local level and recommends that the European standards on housing rights be specified in national jurisprudence. “These norms should be used for clarifying the legal obligations and minimum standards involved in the implementation of the right to housing as well as in the development of indicators for monitoring the situation.”

Underlining that housing rights must be implemented in full compliance with the principle of non-discrimination, the Commissioner finally addresses a number of recommendations to member states aimed at designing better housing policy and practice.

Media contact in the Commissioner’s Office:
Stefano Montanari, +33 6 61 14 70 37; stefano.montanari@coe.int

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Communication Unit
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 35 38
Fax:+33 (0)3 90 21 50 53