MPs sound warning on travellers policy

Government policy on gypsies and travellers could breach
international human rights law, MPs and peers warned last

A report by the all-party joint committee on human rights calls for
the reintroduction of a local authority duty to find appropriate
sites for travellers.

The duty was removed in 1994 but the report argues it should be
reintroduced to fulfil Britain’s obligations under the
international convention on the elimination of racial

The committee believes the current legal position, which only
requires councils to audit need, fails to tackle the inequalities
in the provision of accommodation.

The MPs also argue that temporary stop notices, which allow illegal
development of land to be halted, may breach the convention because
they discriminate against travellers.

The notices cannot be used to stop the use of a building as a home
but can be used against the pitching of caravans.

And the report says measures in the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003,
which give police powers to remove trespassers from land, are
having a disproportionate impact on the traveller community.

Although the UK is party to the elimination of racial
discrimination convention, it has not been incorporated into UK

However, human rights group Liberty said the report could provoke
challenges under UK or European equality law.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said a
blanket duty on local authorities was not necessary and had not
worked when it was in force.

She added that the government’s approach focused help where it was

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