Greek Authorities Illegally Evicting Roma as Part of
20 November 2007
On 18 July 2007, the ERRC sent a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights regarding ongoing evictions of Albanian Romani communities in Athens. The Romani families, most of whom reside legally in Greece, are being evicted as part of an effort to "clean" (the term used by the Municipality of Athens) the downtown area where they live to make way for the construction of a football stadium. The Roma were not presented with any judicial order calling for their eviction.
In blatant violation of international human rights and housing law, no provisions for adequate permanent or even temporary accommodations were made for the evicted families, who until recently lived on Aghiou Polikaprou street in the Votanikos area of Athens. A second group of families, living near Orpheos Street, was also under threat of eviction (and indeed would have been evicted on 15 June if the deputy Greek Ombudsman for Human Rights, M. Andreas Takis, had not been present at the site), also without any contingency plans provided by the government for their future housing. Despite clear indications from the Greek Ombudsman's office that it is "imperative […] to abstain from forced evictions" absent the provision of alternative housing, the municipal government of Athens has continued with its "cleaning" programme.
The ERRC's letter noted that this is not the first instance of socalled cleaning operations by the Greek government that result in forced and illegal evictions of Roma. The European Committee of Social Rights censured Greece twice in the past 18 months for violations of Article 16 (Right of the Family to Social, Legal and Economic Protection) of the European Social Charter, noting that Greece has repeatedly failed to offer adequate legal protection and alternative housing to forcibly evicted Roma.
The ERRC urged the Council of Europe and the UN to make official visits to investigate the situation on the ground in Athens and to communicate with the Greek government, the Roma communities in question, and the NGO's working to address their situation (including Greek Helsinki Monitor).