Portugal Continues Violating Housing Rights of Roma
Budapest, Lisbon, 18 July 2014: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) today sent a letter to the Portuguese authorities to express its concern regarding the forced eviction of fifteen Romani families in Vidigueira, and the demolition of their homes and belongings.
Local NGOs alerted the ERRC that fifteen Romani families including children and pregnant women were evicted from their homes in Vidigueira where they have been living for around 30 years. They had left Vidigueira for a few days and found upon return on 17 June 2014 their homes and belongings demolished. According to the available information, the families did not receive any prior notification of the demolition, were not consulted and were not even warned to remove their belongings. Some of the evicted families took refuge in relatives’ houses and in tents. The request of the evicted families for a meeting was refused by municipal authorities.
In its letter of concern to the Portuguese authorities, the ERRC underlined the evictions violated certain provisions of international law and can render relevant authorities liable for these actions. Before any eviction, Portuguese authorities are obliged to provide prior notice and consult with the affected persons. Failing to do so violates not only the right to adequate housing, but also the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, to be free from discrimination, the right to private life, numerous children’s rights and the rights of women.
The ERRC Chair of the Board Rob Kushen stated that, “Forced evictions are, prima facie, human rights violations under international law. Experience from across Europe has proven that eviction and destruction of settlements does not solve any problem. Evicted persons do not magically disappear. The only solution to the current situation is that the authorities develop and implement comprehensive inclusion policies for Roma, including housing.”
In its letter the ERRC called upon the authorities to provide immediate assistance to the evicted families, especially the children and the pregnant women, and to consult with the evicted families on further steps and to assess their needs.