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NGOs Demand Government Action to Stop Forced Evictions of Roma in Romania

20 April 2016

Budapest, 20 April 2016: The Romanian Government must take decisive and immediate measures to stop forced evictions of Romani communities, a coalition of NGOs told them last week. Amnesty International, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), and Romani Criss issued a call for action after the European Court of Human Rights and the national government in Romania scrambled to stop a local authority from evicting a community two weeks ago.

With help from the ERRC, Roma living in Eforie got the European Court of Human Rights to order the Romanian Government to stop their eviction by local authorities. The Prefect (representing the national government) then stepped in, challenging the Eforie local council in court. We welcome this action, but it should have happened automatically.

The swift response by the Prefect shows that the Romanian Government recognises the need to intervene to stop forced evictions. It also vindicates our repeated calls to make better use of the Prefects’ existing powers to stop evictions.

Eforie also illustrates Romania’s enduring failure to prevent local authorities from threatening Romani communities with forced evictions. This would have been the third in a series of evictions that these families had endured since 2013, when their long-standing, homes were demolished. In the meantime, they have been forced into inhuman living conditions, with minimal or no security of tenure. Some families have been moved into racially-segregated container settlements and most have been harassed.

“Forced evictions against Romani communities are not only a violation of the right to adequate housing, but usually a form of racial harassment. They create new forms of hardship for those evicted, exacerbating a pattern of human rights violations. We encourage the Government to break old habits by acting fast and decisively to end forced evictions,” said the ERRC President Đorđe Jovanovic.

We called for a coordinated and formalised state response to forced evictions. To ensure compliance with Romania’s international human rights law commitments we have proposed clarifications to the legal framework and immediate measures to render existing guarantees more effective.

The government should commit to the following legislative changes:

  1. Expand the domestic definition of eviction to the demolition of informal housing as required by international law.
  2. Secure tenure for Roma in informal settlements by reintroducing a statute of limitation for the demolition of unauthorized housing.
  3. Extend consultation requirements to cover mass evictions
  4. Introduce a remedy with automatic suspensive effect against forced evictions, allowing for a full review of their proportionality.

The government can immediately use existing legal guarantees by encouraging Prefects to stop evictions. We have now made detailed recommendations to the government in this respect.

It is now time for the Romanian government to act on these recommendations and bring an end to forced evictions of Roma for once and for all.

For further information contact:

Atanas Zahariev
+36 30 500 2026
atanas.zahariev@errc.org

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ERRC submission to the European Commission on Roma Inclusion in enlargement countries (May 2017)

25 May 2017

Written comments by the ERRC to the European Commission on enlargement component of the EU Roma Framework.

 

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Roma Rights 1 2017: Roma and Conflict: Understanding the Impact of War and Political Violence

16 May 2017

The impact of conflict on minority populations merits special attention, especially if those minorities have long been marginalized, viewed by the warring parties with a mixture of ambivalence and contempt, and deemed to be communities of little consequence in the peace-building processes that follow the conclusion of hostilities. This issue of Roma Rights Journal takes a look at the fate of Roma during and after conflicts.

Sometimes Roma have been the direct targets of murderous aggression or subject to reprisals. Then there have been the many times where individual Roma actively took a side, but too often the roles played by Roma, Travellers and other minorities were elided from the dominant national narratives that followed.

In many conflicts, caught between warring groups with no foreign power or military alliance to champion their claims, Roma found themselves displaced, despised and declaimed as bogus refugees, nomads and “mere” economic migrants in the aftermath.

As long as Europe’s largest ethnic minority is written out and rendered invisible in the histories of Europe’s wars and conflicts; and excluded from the politics of reconstruction and peace-making, the continent’s self-understanding will remain fatally flawed.

Editors: Marek Szilvasi, Kieran O’Reilly, Bernard Rorke

Roma Rights 1 2017 (PDF)

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Macron Election Call Out

5 May 2017

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