Our blog




SAVE THE DATE! Hearing in the European Parliament : Criminalisation of Homelessness in the European Union - 18 September 2013

SAVE THE DATE! Hearing in the European Parliament : Criminalisation of Homelessness in the European Union - 18 September 2013











Criminalisation of homelessness in the European Union

18 September 2013, 9:00 – 12:00 

European Parliament, Brussels - ASP 3 H 1



Hosted by Sylvie Guillaume MEP



Mme Sylvie Guillaume, along with FEANTSA and Housing Rights Watch have organised this hearing to:


  • - raise awareness about the criminalisation of homelessness in the European Union,
  • - launch the very first European report on the criminalisation and penalisation of homelessness in Europe,
  • - bring together allies including  representatives from the European Parliament, European Commission, Council of Europe, judges, police unions, NGOs to find better ways  forward to ensure the right to housing and the access to right for homeless people,
  • - formulate creative ways to tackle these problems.




Across Europe, there is a shift towards repressive administrative regimes at local level which often violate fundamental rights of people in vulnerable situations. Local authorities use sanctions to criminalise the everyday activities of homeless people in their struggle for survival (anti-begging legislation, rough sleeping prohibition, prohibition of removing things from rubbish bins, ticketing for loitering, forcing people to ‘move on’, etc.…). Once sanctioned, homeless people find it very difficult, if not impossible to access justice.  Often they are not aware of their rights or the possible appeals procedures; in some cases, the procedures themselves are opaque or non-existent.


Housing Rights Watch and FEANTSA are challenging the thinking of these repressive regimes and calling on Members of the European Parliament, NGOs, activists and policy makers to stand up for fundamental rights and call for social policies that promote social inclusion. 


In order to reverse this trend to criminalise and penalise homeless people and others in vulnerable situations, we need action at European level.  MEPs and EU officials can help by supporting groups to challenge local laws and by reminding policy makers that international and European human rights instruments should be respected at all levels.


Languages: English and French


To register: contact Samara Jones, Policy Officer, FEANTSA: Samara.jones@feantsa.org ;

+32 (0)2 538 66 69, 194 Chaussée de Louvain, 1210 Brussels, Belgium


Deadline for registrations: 5 September 2013





9:00 – 9:10

Welcome and introductions

Sylvie Guillaume, Member of Parliament, S&D

9:10 – 9:50

Findings and recommendations from European report on criminalisation and penalisation of homelessness

Questions and answers

Guillem Fernandez, Housing Rights Watch

9:50 – 10:10

Insight: Question of violation of human rights?

Expert opinion on access to economic and social rights for homeless people

10:10 – 10:40

Response from the European institutions / partners

10:40 – 11:40

Case study – Hungary

Fighting criminalisation with grassroots action and strategic litigation:

TIZEK - Ádám Kardos from HAJSZOLT in Zalaegerszeg (confirmed)

Representatives from The City is For All (confirmed)

Rita Bence - the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (confirmed)


Comment – campaigning against criminalisation in France

An alliance of actors fighting for rights

Emmaüs France, Emmaüs Solidarités, Fondation Abbé Pierre, Jurislogement

11:40 – 12:00

A way forward : solutions and strategies

Rina Beers, President of FEANTSA

Freek Spinnewijn, Director of FEANTSA




Book launch: European Report on the criminalisation and penalisation of homelessness – to be published in September 2013


Across Europe, homeless people, and others pushed to the margins of society (migrants, people living in poverty, prison-leavers, etc.) are being increasingly penalised.  In some cases they are excluded from the very social programmes or housing projects designed to help people integrate into society. 


The worst example of criminalisation of homelessness is the recent constitutional change in Hungary that allows a local authority to pass laws to make rough sleeping illegal, charge excessive fines and imprison homeless people, instead of providing real housing-led policies to integrate homeless people into the community. The activists with The City is For All (Budapest), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and other organisations have been campaigning on the issue and call on European stakeholders to support their fight.