Romanian Draft Law on Housing Expected to Worsen Situation of Roma and other Marginalised Groups
22 March 2007
A proposed law on rent could worsen the situation of Roma and other marginalised groups, warn international human rights groups.
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) have written to the Romanian authorities presenting their concerns in relation to the draft of a "Law regarding the relations between owners and tenants and the obligations incumbent on them with regard to housing management and maintenance". The Romanian Ministry of Transport, Constructions and Tourism recently posted the draft on its website soliciting input from the public before its adoption.
COHRE Executive Director (a.i.), Jean du Plessis, said, "Efforts by Romanian authorities to further regress in the area of social and economic rights cannot be met with silence. We have been compelled to act to challenge this effort as an assault on the poor. If the draft is adopted in its present form, it would seriously compromise Romania's obligations under international human rights law, as well as failing to fulfil its duty to lift a significant segment of its population out of poverty."
The problematic aspects of the draft law which concern ERRC and COHRE are as follows:
- The underlying philosophy of the law, which regards housing exclusively as an economic product, and not as a basic human right;
- The narrow definition of "household" can have disparate, negative impact on Roma, as a result of widespread non-registration of housing, particularly in slum settlements, as well as because persons in common-law or traditional marriages would not be recognized as legitimate members of households.
- An inadequate eviction procedure which would permit evictions of persons occupying housing without a legal title, following a request filed by the owner or his/her representative "without prior notice, and without the obligation to provide, in any form, alternative accommodation"; and
- A new social housing scheme that would probably lead to the reduction of the already paltry social housing stock in Romania.
ERRC Executive Director, Vera Egenberger, said, "This law, if adopted in its present form, will have powerful negative impacts on a major segment of the Romani community in Romania."
Egenberger added, "The ERRC and COHRE urge the Romanian government to withdraw the current bill from consideration. We are willing to work with the government to draft a bill which would guarantee compliance with Romania's international legal obligations and safeguards the housing rights of vulnerable groups such as the Roma in Romania."
The full text of the ERRC and COHRE letter to the Romanian authorities is available: