BREAKING: Eviction of ADM Squat cancelled by UN Human Rights Committee

Following a long legal battle, ADM’s eviction, scheduled for today, was canceled last-minute by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

In the letter to Electra Leda Koutra, a lawyer representing ADM, the UN Committee informs that it has requested that the squat’s residents are not to be evicted “to any place in which conditions fall short from international standards while their case is under consideration”.

Electra Leda Koutra in her statement said:

“Great great news for “free spaces” across the world. Fulfillment and relief (for now). The ADM Amsterdam stays!!! NO EVICTION TO ANY SPACE THAT DOES NOT RESPECT INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS CAN TAKE PLACE. The Complaint of 60 ADMers has been communicated to the Dutch Government with request for observations that have to be submitted until 26 June 2019. Then we will comment on them.

The Amsterdam Municipality had adopted a superficial “law and order” approach, based on the final decision of the High Court which was ordering their eviction. However, the Municipality obviously disregarded its own obligation, as regional government, under international law to ensure that an eviction is compatible with international standards and showed intolerance to the applicants’ socio-cultural minority status and the need for relocation of the whole community as a whole (unregistered residents and house boat residents too) in “a site better than the current one”. Not temporarily, but permanently. Taking into account the needs of individuals and the community. Making “consequences’ assessments” which take into account individual circumstances, such as disability of some community members. With respect to their fundamental rights, their culture, their need for a space allowing enhanced freedom of expression. I am certain that the Municipality’s cynical stance, as also expressed in the Council Meeting of 20/12, contributed to the indication of an interim measure by the UN.

The Dutch Government will also have to answer on the complaint that the space allowed for expression and free thinking is targeted indirectly, in that the “space” for it is either shrinked disproportionately or over-regulated to a degree not allowing such an expression. This tendency to sacrifice creativity before profit considerations has been decried by many rights movements globally. The stance of the HRC will affect these movements too.

It is interesting to note that the European Court of Human Rights had recently not only rejected the 53 ADMers’ (in that request) claim for urgent protection, but rejected their application… before it was even lodged. Upon inquiry as to how this is possible, it was argued that according to a recent practice of that Court, an interim measure can lead to the rejection of the whole “underlying application” (as it would potentially be submitted in the future!), if the Court believes that the information it holds is sufficient for considering the case.

The different levels of respect and protection afforded by European and UN mechanisms (in equivalent complaints protected in parallel by the ECHR and the ICCPR) are of wider concern and interest.

The communications between the applicants and the ECtHR were sent to the HRC, which obviously considered that the applicants’ protection, on EU jurisdiction, at all levels, has been inadequate.”

It is great news for ADM’s residents who have been fighting their eviction for the last few years. ADM, located in a derelict shipyard of Amsterdam Drydock Company is currently “the biggest  cultural free-haven in the Netherlands“, providing space for more than 100 people and numerous projects such as Green ADM, festivals, concerts, workshops and arts.

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UPDATE: as we learnt a few days after writing of this text, Amsterdam has decided to ignore the UN request. More info here.


Source and image: ADM website