Albanian Romani Families Face Forcible Eviction
29 October 2003
According to the April 3, 2003 press release of the Tirana-based Romani organisation Rromani Baxt, fifteen Romani families, totalling one hundred and twenty-two people, face forcible eviction from their homes in a formerly state-owned building in the 4th District of Pogradec in central eastern Albania. Rromani Baxt reported that Mr Astrit Rakipi, one of the Roma facing eviction and homelessness, stated that the families, who had authorisation from the Pogradec Housing Authority, were visited in April of 2002 by Mr Ramadan Mançellari, who claimed to be the new owner of the building. At this time, Mr Mançellari reportedly ordered the Romani inhabitants to evacuate the building immediately. Mr Rakipi testified that the Roma complained to the municipality, which refused to assist them.
Rromani Baxt reported that when the Romani residents did not leave the building, as they had no where else to go, Mr Mançellari returned with a document for his title to the building and a court decision ordering the Roma to leave the premises. The Romani residents then filed a complaint with the Korçë District Court, which the court subsequently rejected. In November 2002, the Roma requested that the Korçë District Court forward the case file to the Court of Appeal in Tirana, which it reportedly did. While the Court of Appeal was reviewing the case, the Bailiff's Office of the Korçë District Court issued a decision that the Romani families be evicted by April 7, 2003, according to Rromani Baxt.
On April 3, 2003, Rromani Baxt filed a request with the Albanian Ombudsman's Office and the High Court of the Republic of Albania to suspend the decision of the Bailiff's Office of the Korçë District Court while the case is pending before the Court of Appeal, on the grounds that the eviction would render the fifteen Romani families homeless. As of August 4, 2003, the ERRC had been unable to contact Rromani Baxt for further information in the case.
Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, to which Albania is a signatory, states, "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent." In its General Comment 7, the Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights asserted that "forced evictions are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the Covenant" and that "Evictions should not result in individuals being rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. Where those affected are unable to provide for themselves, the State party must take all appropriate measures, to the maximum of its available resources, to ensure that adequate alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land, as the case may be, is available." For further information on the human rights situation of Roma in Albania, visit the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org.
(ERRC, Rro-mani Baxt)