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Parliamentary questions
18 October 2013
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Sandra Petrović Jakovina (S&D)

 Subject:  Criminalisation of homelessness

There is a tendency across Europe to move towards repressive administrative regimes at local level that often result in violations of the fundamental rights of people in vulnerable situations such as the homeless, migrants, the poor and prison leavers, who are increasingly being punished simply because of their situation. In some cases they are excluded from the very social programmes or housing projects that are designed to help people integrate or reintegrate into society.

Local authorities use measures to criminalise the everyday activities of the homeless in their struggle for survival. These may take the form of anti-begging legislation, bans on sleeping rough and removing items from rubbish bins, or forcing people to ‘move on’. Once charged, homeless people find it very difficult, if not impossible, to access justice.

Social policy and the promotion of social inclusion have always been high on the agenda of social democratic governments.

Just like the other Member States, Croatia has, in recent years, witnessed an increase in the number of people living in poverty. These are vulnerable members of society and are fully entitled to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms at EU and Member State level.

The relevant treaties stress, inter alia, the Union’s obligation to combat social exclusion and discrimination, to promote social justice and protection, and to contribute to the eradication of poverty and to solidarity among citizens. There is a blanket ban on the subjection of another human being to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in accordance with Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

It is not socially just that some countries are criminalising homelessness while many others do their utmost to enable their citizens to, for instance, retain their property despite being unemployed and/or unable to meet their loan obligations, all that bearing in mind that, given that the economic crisis has been ongoing for five years, it is highly likely that the number of people living in poverty will continue to rise.

What legal action does the Commission intend to take in order to ensure that citizens’ values and fundamental rights are protected as enshrined in the Treaties, such as to make it impossible for Member States to adopt measures or legislation in this area which would impact negatively on the homeless?

 OJ C 218, 10/07/2014
Last updated: 28 October 2013Legal notice