The European Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe concluded that Portugal continues to violate the right to decent housing for the gipsy community residing in the countryreveals a report by the organization.

The decision concerns a complaint filed in 2010 and the reasoning states that “precarious housing conditions persist for a large part of the Roma community”, in addition to “the fact that the Government has not demonstrated that it has taken sufficient measures to ensure that the Roma community lives in houses that meet minimum criteria ”.

Even though it recognizes some measures taken by the country to improve the conditions in which the gipsy community lives, namely through the National Strategy for the Integration of Gypsy Communities, and housing programs such as the 1st Right, invoked by Portugal in response to the complaint, the European Committee argues that the problem persists.

The exact number of gipsy people in Portugal is unknown and is based on estimates, which point to a population between 24 thousand and 40 thousand people, but that the European committee refutes, considering that estimates between 45 thousand and 50 thousand people are “more realistic” numbers, as they include the “invisible”, meaning, the families that are not referenced and those that do not have a fixed residence.

“The number of foreign gipsies in Portugal is unknown since no official information is collected on this issue”, the Council of Europe organization also says.

Regarding the habitability conditions among the gipsy community, the report also points out about 37 percent of the Portuguese gipsies are living in slums or camps, which can be found in 70 municipalities.

Children are usually all enrolled in the same school, which creates a situation of “gipsy schools” and housing is often overcrowded since relocation policies do not take family expansion into account.

Because of this, the European committee, recognizing the efforts made by the Portuguese authorities, argues that Portugal is in a situation of non-compliance, that improvements are needed and that “there are still obstacles” related to the lack of reliable quantitative and qualitative data.

It also identified “recurrent failures” by States to guarantee access to labour rights on equal terms, pointing out problems of discrimination in access to employment, gender inequalities in wages and the failure to prevent situations of forced labour or labour exploitation.