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Bagdonavicius and others v Russia (third-party intervention 2016)

28 April 2017


The applicants were Romani families living in a Romani neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kaliningrad City (in the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea). The neighbourhood was created in 1956 following a Soviet decree “On Engaging Vagrant Gypsies in Labour” which required Roma to establish a fixed residence. In the early 2000s, the authorities worked with the community to help them secure legal recognition of their property rights and secure access to public services, but those efforts stopped. By the middle of the decade, the authorities had become hostile, and, following legal proceedings, the applicants’ homes were demolished and burned in 2006. They went on to live in makeshift accommodation and, without a registered address, lost access to a range of public services.

ERRC and Minority Rights Group International’s Intervention

The ERRC and Minority Rights Group International were jointly granted permission to intervene in the case.

We presented the Court with evidence of the crisis of forced evictions of Roma in Europe. We drew the Court’s attention in particular to the fact that forced evictions are not stand-alone incidents but rather reflect the extreme level of social exclusion of Roma and impact upon the full array of rights. We also set out the need for the Court to provide further specificity under its case law on Article 8 (right to respect for private life, family life, correspondence, and home) to ensure that States comply with their obligations in cases of forced evictions. We made comments on the applicability of Article 1 of Protocol 1 (right to property) to the forced eviction of Roma, on which, we explained, further guidance from the Court was needed. Lastly, we set out several principles on the applicability of Article 14 of the Convention (non-discrimination) in cases of forced evictions of Roma. In particular, we argued that when public authorities have explicitly treated a racial group such as Roma differently in relation to housing, it will be impossible to justify such discrimination unless it is based on positive measures.

The Court’s Judgment

The Court found that the applicants had suffered a violation of their right to respect for private life, family life, and home (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights). The basis of the Court’s finding was that the Russian authorities did not consider whether demolishing the applicants’ homes was proportionate before they went ahead with the demolition. The Court took into account that the applicants were Roma. In particular, the Court recalled its previous case law, according to which Roma should not be forcibly evicted from their homes without being rehoused.

The Court did not find a violation of the right to property, because they found that the applicants’ property interests were not sufficiently significant and had not been sufficiently recognised.

The Court did not find it necessary to deal separately with the Article 14 argument about discrimination, given the reasoning under Article 8. 


  • The Court’s statement of facts in the case can be found here.
  • The judgment in the case (only in French) can be found here.
  • The ERRC’s and Minority Rights Group International’s third-party intervention can be found here.

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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