Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of June 20, 2017 on Communication No. 5/2015 in the case of Ben Djazia and Bellili v. Spain.
In 2015, the authors of the communication were assisted in the preparation of the communication.
Families with young children are evicted from a rented room in the apartment without providing alternative housing.
The case successfully considered a report on the eviction of a family with young children from a rented room in an apartment without providing alternative housing.
Circumstances of the case
The authors of the message lived together in a Madrid apartment after the marriage in 2009. In 2012, they stopped receiving unemployment benefits and could not continue to pay hiring fees. In 2013, they were evicted from their homes with children aged one and three years. They complained to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that they had been evicted in violation of article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (everyone’s right to an adequate standard of living), in the absence of taking into account the fact that they did not have alternative housing, or the consequences of eviction, in particular for their young children.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
The right to adequate housing, arising from the right to an adequate standard of living, is crucial for the use of all economic, social and cultural rights and is organically linked to other human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to housing should be ensured to all persons, regardless of income or access to economic resources. Everyone should be provided with a certain degree of security of possession, which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, intimidation and other threats. Forced evictions prima facie are incompatible with the requirements of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and can only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances and in accordance with the applicable principles of international law. If the eviction is justified, the competent authorities must ensure that it is carried out in accordance with the law and is compatible with the Covenant, including the principle of human dignity and respect for the general principles of reasonableness and proportionality (See General Comment No. 4 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights : right to adequate housing (article 11, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)).
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted that the authors refused to leave the rented room, although the landlord informed them in advance that the contract would not be renewed and that the rent would be terminated on August 31, 2012. Since June 2012, the authors of the message could not pay fees for hiring. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights decided that this was a legitimate reason that could justify the authors' eviction. Spanish law did not impose an obligation on national authorities to assess the possible consequences of eviction, although in practice they did so, and judges were not always required by law to suspend eviction until alternative housing was selected. The law did not explicitly and explicitly state that judges are authorized or may oblige other bodies, such as social services, to take concerted action to prevent the homelessness of the evicted person from their home. It was in this context that the authors were evicted, despite the lack of alternative housing.
In this regard, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded that the eviction constituted a violation of their right to adequate housing, as the State party could not convincingly prove that despite taking all reasonable measures using all available resources and to consider the specific circumstances of the authors, it was impossible to secure their right to housing. In the present case, the burden placed on the state was exacerbated by the fact that this measure affected young children. The State party did not dispute the fact that the family needed public housing and complied with signs that allowed it to be requested. However, they only claimed that they had limited resources. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found this argument inadequate, as the authorities of the State party did not prove that they took all possible measures using the available resources to ensure the right to housing in favor of persons who, like the authors of the communication, were especially in need. The eviction of the authors in the absence of alternative housing amounted, therefore, to a violation of their right to adequate housing.
The case has violated article 11, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as such and in conjunction with article 2, paragraph 1, and article 10, paragraph 1, of the said Covenant.
Individual recommendations. The Spanish authorities should take all necessary measures to help the family obtain adequate housing and pay her compensation.
General recommendations. The Spanish authorities must ensure that its laws and practices comply with the obligations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure the right to adequate housing, in particular by (a) granting the right to judicial review of the consequences of eviction, (b) improving coordination between courts and social services, (c) refusing to evict vulnerable people in the absence of prior consultation and using all available resources to provide them with alternative housing and (d) taking measures to provide low-income housing.