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Case of Moldovan and Others v Romania; village of Hadareni

1 June 2015

The European Court of Human Rights on 13 July 2005 ruled that Romania violated multiple provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to provide justice in connection with a 1993 pogrom and its aftermath. The case involves the killing by a mob of three Romani men and the subsequent destruction of fourteen Romani houses in the village of Hadareni in Mures County, northwestern Romania, as well as the degrading circumstances in which the victims were forced to live after the event. 

Facts: In September 1993, a conflict arose between some Roma and non-Roma men in the Romanian village of Hădăreni (Târgu-Mureş county) which resulted in the death of a non-Roma man. That evening, the non-Roma villagers gathered where the Roma men were hiding and demanded that they come out. Among the crowd were members of the local police force. The Roma men refused to appear and the mob set fire to the house. Two of the Roma men were beaten to death, the other perished in the fire. Later that evening and continuing into the next day, the villagers proceeded to burn Roma thirteen homes and property in the village, such as stables, cars, and goods. The police did nothing to halt the attacks. 25 applicants alleged the destruction of their home and possessions. As a result, the applicants were obliged to live in crowded and unsuitable conditions and frequently change addresses, moving in with friends of family in extremely overcrowded conditions.

Article 3 (prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment): violation

The Court held that the applicants' living conditions over the last ten years, its detrimental effect on their health and well-being, and the general attitude of the authorities, must have caused them considerable suffering, arousing in them feelings of humiliation and debasement. In addition, the remarks concerning the applicants' honesty and way of life made by some authorities appear to be purely discriminatory. The Court took such remarks as an aggravating factor in the examination of the applicants' complaint under Article 3. As a result, the Court concluded that the applicants have been subjected to degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3.

Article 6 Section 1 (access to court and right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time): violation

The applicants were able to lodge a successful civil action against the civilians who had been found guilty by the criminal court, claiming compensation for the destruction of their homes. As a result, the Court considered that the applicants could not claim an additional right to a separate civil action against the police officers allegedly involved in the same incident. However, the proceedings had lasted more than 11 years and the Court found that such length did not satisfy the reasonable-time requirement and therefore held that there had been a violation of Article 6 Section 1.

Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life): violation

Considering whether the national authorities took adequate steps to put a stop to breaches of the applicants' rights, the Court noted, among other things, that (1) despite the involvement of state agents in the burning of the applicants' houses, the Public Prosecutors' Office failed to institute criminal proceedings against them; (2) it was only ten years after the events that compensation was awarded fro the destroyed houses, although not for the loss of belongings; (3) in the judgment in the criminal case against the accused villagers, discriminatory remarks about the applicants' Roma origin were made. In the Court's view, these elements taken together indicated a general attitude on the part of the Romanian authorities which perpetuated the applicants' feeling of insecurity after June 1994 and affected their rights to respect for their private and family life and their homes. The Court concluded that that attitude, and the repeated failure of the authorities to put a stop to breaches of the applicants' rights, amounted to a serious violation of Article 8 of a continuing nature.

Article 14 (non-discrimination): violation

The Court noted that the attacks were directed against the applicants because of their Roma origin and the applicants' Roma ethnicity appeared to have been decisive for the length and the result of the domestic proceedings. Among other things, the Court took note of the repeated discriminatory remarks made by the authorities throughout the case. The Court concluded accordingly that there has been a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Articles 6 and 8.

Case Documents 

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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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