Municipality Ordered to Rehouse Roma Evicted from Eforie in 2013
Budapest, 6 June 2016: Eforie: a Black Sea holiday resort known for its clear blue waters, gleaming beaches and mild summer climate, was the arena in which the local municipality took drastic and unlawful action in 2013 against more than 100 Roma living in the area for forty years.
On Wednesday 1st June 2016, a landmark first decision from the Romanian court found the 2013 demolition which was the beginning of such hardship for the affected Roma, to be unlawful. The ruling orders the municipality to provide the victims with adequate alternative housing and is a crucial first step in the fight against forced evictions and in finally getting justice for the Eforie Roma.
“We are very glad about the court decision. We did not expect to be fortunate enough to receive justice. We do not want to live in containers, in buildings waiting to fall on us. We are tired of being afraid of being evicted again and ending up on the streets. Now I have started working and so have some of my neighbours, surely we can afford to pay our bills.” said Ramadan Memet, one of the evicted Roma.
In October 2013 as winter began to draw in, the homes of Roma families, including 55 children, were demolished without consultation or provision for alternative housing. These Roma were left homeless and vulnerable on the edge of society, in stark contrast to the idyllic tourist beach resort of Eforie.
Eighty law enforcement officers ensured the demolition of their homes went ahead unhindered and without incident as the Roma inhabitants looked on. Local media reported the deputy mayor’s threats to resisting Roma at the site: “’if you don’t come out, we’re going to kill you here.”
The days that followed saw the victims living outdoors in temporary shelters until some could eventually take refuge in an abandoned school building without windows or electricity. Others were housed in an equally grim disused dormitory.
The lives of those torn from their homes in Eforie have since been characterised by harassment and hardship in the years following the demolition of their settlement. In July 2014, ten Romani families of around 50 people were once again evicted from the school under the direction of the deputy mayor of Eforie and relocated to containers too small to house all members of the families. These containers had inadequate provision for utilities and were located on the edge of the municipality near an excavation site, posing further risk to children. Three families, including 14 children, were provided with no accommodation of any kind.
In April 2015, the ERRC, Amnesty and Romani CRISS stopped the threatened eviction of the families living in the dormitory. They also called on the Romanian government to take action to halt all forced evictions of Roma.
In March 2016, the European Court of Human Rights felt compelled to stop the local municipality from evicting the Roma from the container settlement. This third eviction would have occurred again without prior warning, making these Roma once again homeless.
April of 2016 saw another joint call from the ERRC, Amnesty and Romani CRISS for the Romanian Government to commit to legislative changes which would prevent forced evictions of Roma.
In the wake of this recent victory for the Romani victims of forced eviction in Eforie, the ERRC calls for a proactive and mature state response to the long-overdue issue of forced evictions of Romanian Roma.
"The domestic courts and the Court in Strasbourg have drawn attention to this brutal form of injustice. We hope this monumental first victory will turn the tide against forced evictions of Roma. The authorities must act to end forced evictions once and for all," said ERRC President Đorđe Jovanovic.
For more information contact:
European Roma Rights Centre