Romanian police evict Roma
5 December 2000
The Bucharest-based Romanian non-governmental organisation Romani CRISS reported that on September 26, 2000, at 11:00 AM, a police unit from the Bucharest police station no. 11, led by the chief of the station, Colonel Rusu Marcel, evicted twelve Romani families from an apartment building at 7 Medeleni Street, Sector 3, Bucharest. Non-Romani families who lived in the same building were reportedly not evicted. According to the testimony of the evicted Roma, they did not receive prior notice of the evictions, nor did the police present them with warrants for eviction.
During the eviction the police reportedly intimidated and harassed the Roma. Ms Florina Mihalache, 29, one of the evicted Roma, told Romani CRISS that shortly after 11:00 AM police officers came to her apartment and ordered her to pack up her belongings and to leave her home. Ms Mihalache refused, insisting that the officers show her an eviction protocol. In response, the chief of the police station ordered the officers to enter and clear Ms Mihalache's personal possessions out of the apartment. When other families refused to leave their apartments, the police forcefully broke the locks on the doors and threw the belongings of the Roma on the street. One child whose parents were not at home asked the police not to move their belongings until the parents returned. Colonel Marcel refused to wait, and reportedly picked up the child and threw him on the pile of moved belongings. The evicted families remained on the street in front of their building until 2:00 AM during which time the police officers remained to prevent them from entering the building. At 2:00 AM two trucks arrived and the police officers started loading the possessions of the families into the trucks. The police officers reportedly forced four Romani children to get into the truck with the belongings of their family although the parents were not present. The chief of the police allegedly tried to take the youngest child in his own car. When the child's siblings threatened to report this at the police station, he cursed them and knocked the child onto the ground. The trucks left the families and their possessions in front of a building called Camin M2B where other homeless people were accommodated, run by the Bucharest municipality. The chief of the police reportedly told the Roma not to tell anyone that he had evicted them or left them in front of the shelter. The administrator of Camin M2B reportedly refused to accommodate the Roma on the grounds that they did not have permission from the mayor of Bucharest to stay in there. She also allegedly threatened to set their belongings on fire if they did not move away from the shelter. According to Romani CRISS, five of the families lived on the street until November 1, when the mayor granted them permission to stay in Camin M2B. The rest of the evicted families are staying with relatives, as of December 12.
The twelve Romani families had been living in the building at 7 Medeleni street since 1991, where the heads of the families had been accommodated by the construction firm for which they had been working. On October 2, 2000, Romani CRISS sent a letter of concern to the police station number 11, and on October 23 they received a response from the chief of the station, Colonel Rusu Marcel, stating that the eviction was conducted pursuant to the permission of the prosecutor's office of the Sector 3 Court of Bucharest. The letter from the police, however, did not specify the date of the prosecutor's decision. As of December 12, Romani Criss intended to file a complaint with the Bucharest Military Prosecutor's Office.
On November 8, 2000, the European Union released its "Report on Progress Towards Accession by each of the Candidate Countries". On Romania, Annex 1 of the Report's "Enlargement Strategy Paper" stated: "In the case of the treatment of the Roma, the continued high levels of discrimination are a serious concern. The Accession Partnership's short-term priorities still need to be met (elaborating a national Roma strategy and providing adequate financial support to minority programmes) and progress has been limited to programmes aimed at improving access to education."