CoE Committee of Ministers demands positive action on the housing of Bulgarian Roma
08 October 2007
Ambitious programme promised by the Bulgarian government
Budapest, 8 October 2007 – The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a resolution following the European Committee on Social Rights' ruling in the case of European Roma Rights Center v Bulgaria. The resolution confirms the Committee's finding that Bulgaria was in violation of the European Social Charter for its systematic denial of the Roma's right to adequate housing.
The European Committee of Social Rights' ruled on 18 October 2006 that "the situation [in Bulgaria] concerning the inadequate housing of Roma families and the lack of proper amenities constitutes a violation of Article 16 and the revised Charter taken together with Article E". The ERRC had presented information to the Committee arguing that many Roma in Bulgaria live in substandard housing and living conditions. Frequently, their homes consist of makeshift shacks made of cardboard, metal scraps and mud bricks, often devoid of windows, doors and walls while basic facilities such as water, electricity, heating, sewage and public transport are often non-existent.
In response to the ruling, Bulgaria announced new legislation to simplify the legalisation of existing buildings and the construction of new dwellings, including social housing. Furthermore an alternative to municipality run housing to afford access to disadvantaged groups will be established. In addition, Bulgaria will permit delays in the execution of court verdicts which damage the interests of the Roma community.
The ERRC welcomes the commitment of the Bulgarian government to address the appalling housing conditions in which many of its Roma citizens live.
The ERRC commends the Bulgarian government on the steps it intends to take to tackle the serious housing situation of its Roma citizens and looks forward to progress being made to alleviate their substandard and often primitive living conditions.
This is the third collective complaint taken by the ERRC which has resulted in findings of a violation of the European Social Charter in respect of housing conditions of Roma in both new and old EU member states, namely Italy, Greece and Bulgaria.
Contact Information: ERRC: (36 1) 413 2227 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee of Ministers resolution confirms the ruling on 18 October 2006 of the European Committee of Social Rights which found that Bulgaria was in violation of the European Social Charter for its systematic denial of the Roma’s right to adequate housing. In the case of the ERRC v. Bulgaria, the European Committee of Social Rights held that Bulgaria’s policies with respect to the housing and accommodation of Roma infringe Article 16 (right of the family to social, legal and economic protection) and Article E (which focuses on non-discrimination) of the European Social Charter because:
- Romani families are disproportionately affected by legislation which limits the possibility of legalizing illegal dwellings;
- Romani families experience inadequate housing conditions and lack proper amenities and
- Roma are systematically evicted from their homes without providing them with adequate alternative housing.
The Committee of Ministers has asked the Bulgarian government to include a progress report on the issues in the collective complaint in its next report and to keep the Committee of Ministers regularly informed of all progress made.
The full text of the European Committee of Social Rights decision in Collective Complaint 31/2005, ERRC v. Bulgaria, is available at: Council of Europe
The full text of the Resolution [CM/ResChS(2007)2] Collective Complaint (No. 31/2005) by the ERRC against Bulgaria is available at: Council of Europe
The European Committee of Social Rights supervises implementation by States of the European Social Charter and Revised European Social Charter. Further information on the Committee and the Charters is available at: http://www.coe.int/T/E/Human_Rights/Esc/.