Criminalising homelessness is anti-democratic and instigates hatred

by ERIO on June 11th, 2012

In the past several years, more and more people have been forced to use desperate means of survival, such as begging, living in slums or going through rubbish bins looking for food or items they can recycle or sell. But now, people who resort to these survival tactics face punishment and arrest, say Freek Spinnewijn and Marc Uhry. Freek Spinnewijn is Director of FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Associations Working with the Homeless. Marc Uhry represents Foundation Abbé Pierre and Housing Rights Watch.

"The past several years have seen a marked decline in solidarity in our society; instead we've seen an increase in policies and laws that punish poor people and police their access to public space. In the UK, one of the punishments for a civil offence, such as an 'anti-social behaviour order', is to be denied a place on social housing lists. The UK has also recently declared squatting a criminal offence.

In Hungary, governments have gone further: they have drawn up a list of 'authorised' public behaviour, so police are now free to harass, threaten or even arrest groups they deem undesirable. In France, more and more municipalities are banning begging, making caravan parking illegal for Roma people and travellers, treating slums as a threat to public safety, forcing prostitutes further and further from the city centres, to name but a few. But these are not isolated examples; these issues are on the rise in Spain, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Greece as well.

The first thing that hits you is that criminalising poverty is a paradox. We are in the middle of a prolonged economic crisis, combined with severe austerity measures across Europe, which have resulted in reduced services and programmes for people struggling to make ends meet.
These conditions force more and more people to use more desperate means of survival, such as begging, living in slums or going through rubbish bins looking for food or items they can recycle or sell on. But now, people who resort to these survival tactics face punishment and arrest.

http://www.euractiv.com/socialeurope/criminalising-homelessness-anti-analysis-513181


Posted in not categorized    Tagged with no tags


0 Comments


Leave a Comment