Slovak Parliamentary Commission Recommends Overhaul of State Housing Rights Strategy
27 February 2008
Civil Society Organizations Urge Deputy Prime Minister and Other Relevant Organs of Government to Adopt Detailed Strategy to Combat Housing Rights Violations
Budapest. The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), the Milan Simecka Foundation (MSF) and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) today welcomed publicly the recommendation by the Slovak Parliament's Committee for Human Rights, Nationalities and the Status of Women of a resolution on the forced eviction of non-payers of rent, adopted on 29 January 2008. The resolution was adopted following a public hearing about the issue of forced evictions in the Parliamentary Committee with participation of the Milan Simecka Foundation on 10 October 2007.
In the resolution, the Committee calls on Deputy Prime Minister Dusan Caplovic, in conjunction with other relevant organs of government, to undertake a range of measures, including the systematic monitoring of the fulfilment of Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as elaborated by General Comments 4 and 7 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, setting out the parameters of the right to adequate housing; joining Articles 30 and 31 of the Revised European Social Charter, guaranteeing the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, and the right to housing respectively. The Council additionally called on the relevant authorities to consider the adoption of a law which would limit the allocation to private owners of properties owned by the municipality in cases where the property in question is currently inhabited by persons with official residence in the municipality at issue, and thereby avoid the forced removal of these tenants to other municipalities. Furthermore, the Committee also called on the development of a targeted state policy on social housing and efforts against extreme poverty in the field of housing and provide municipal authorities with assistance in order to draft and successfully implement their own local strategies of social inclusion and housing policy.
Commenting on the measure, Milan Simecka Foundation Programs Director Laco Oravec said, "These measures are extremely well-thought-out and well-suited to Slovak reality. We cannot see any reason why Deputy Prime Minister Caplovic would hesitate to adopt them in full."
The Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) Vera Egenberger stated, "The resolution is a significant moment in the history of Slovak legislators. It deserves praise and demonstrates that they are becoming fully aware of the acute housing problems Roma face in Slovakia. We very much hope the Government will pay heed to the resolution."
COHRE Deputy Director Jean du Plessis said, "COHRE named Slovakia as one of the three worst Housing Rights Violators for the year 2007. We would regard acting on the measures proposed by the Parliamentary Council as a bold and commendable move towards remedying the situation in Slovakia."
COHRE named Slovakia one of the three worst housing rights violators for 2007 because the Government has persistently failed to protect the Roma from discrimination and consequently deprived them of their housing and associated rights. Forced evictions of Roma in Slovakia continue unabated throughout the country. In 2007, large-scale forced evictions of Roma have taken place in municipalities such as Tornala, Kezmarok, Kosice and Nove Zamky. Further evictions are imminent and/or threatened in Presov, Nitra, Levoca, Kezmarok and Zlate Moravce. Slovak authorities have not yet implemented the decision by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in the matter of L.R. and Others v. Slovakia, in which the Committee found violations of international law as a result of implemented policies of racial segregation in the town of Dobsina.
It is estimated that over 120,000 Romani persons currently reside in under-developed rural settlements and segregated urban slums in Slovakia, or are otherwise housed in substandard housing conditions.
Marek Hojsik, Milan Simecka Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claude Cahn, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE): email@example.com
Sinan Goken, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC): firstname.lastname@example.org
The three organisations joining this statement are currently involved in a project supported by the Open Society Institute to secure the right to adequate housing where Roma are concerned in Slovakia.