Agreement Reached After Court Confirmed Romani Refugees Must Vacate Camp in Serbia and Montenegro
29 July 2004
According to an April 13, 2004 press release of the Podgorica office of the non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), on March 10, 2004, the High Court in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro, confirmed an earlier ruling of the Berane Municipal Court that Mr Rajko Marković be permitted to evict from his property approximately two hundred Kosovo "Egyptian" refugees. The term Egyptian refers to an Albanian-speaking minority in Kosovo viewed as "Gypsies" by outsiders, but who claim to have originated from Egypt. The camp, known as the Riverside-Talum Camp, has been home to the displaced Egyptians since 2000, when Mr Marković signed a lease agreement valid until May 2003. According to the HLC, in February 2002, Mr Marković signed a second agreement which allows the Egyptian refugees to remain in the camp until May 2005 for a monthly rent of 25 Euro per household, which the non-governmental organisation Caritas agreed to pay (background information is available at: http://lists.errc.org/rr_nr3_2003/snap40.shtml). However, in May 2003, Mr Marković sought an eviction order from the Berane Municipal Court. The HLC reported that both the Berane Municipal Court and the High Court based their decisions on the first contract.
On April 13, 2004, the HLC sent a letter of Mr Milo Ðukanoviæ, Prime Minister of Montenegro, requesting that he stop the evic-tion of the approximately two hundred displaced Kosovo Egyptians from the Riverside-Talum camp in Berane until alternative housing is found, as they will be left homeless otherwise. As of June 21, 2004, the HLC informed the ERRC that following pressure to act by numerous non-governmental body organisations, the Ministry for Refugees had reached an agree-ment with Mr Marković whereby the refugees can remain on the site until May 2005.