Evictions of Roma in Hungary
07 May 2002
A wave of evictions, targeting especially Roma, continues in Hungary. According to Mr István Patay, a Romani man who provided testimony to the ERRC on February 18, 2002, Mr Patay, his brother, his wife and their 3 children, all below the age of four, were evicted from the flat they were occupying in Budapest on February 2, 2002. The family had reportedly been living in the flat for around five years. Mr Patay reported to the ERRC that the family had allegedly commenced a legal procedure near the end of 1999 to obtain ownership of the house, when the owner, who is living abroad, sold the house to their neighbour. The case is reportedly still pending before the court. According to Mr Patay, they were not given notice of the eviction, in contravention of Hungarian law. On February 12, 2002, approximately thirty private security guards and several workers went to their home, broke down the gate and began to demolish the house, while the family was away. Reportedly, the windows and door of the house were broken, the furniture, clothing and all other possessions of the family were thrown outside through the windows, and workers began to break the house down. Upon returning home, Mr Patay told the ERRC, family members were unable to get into the house to retrieve their possessions. As of April 23, 2002, the family was reportedly homeless and Mr Patay’s three children had been taken into state care.
In other news related to evictions of Roma in Hungary, on February 11, 2002, the Roma Press Center (RSK) reported that eight Romani families, comprising seventeen adults and twelve children, faced eviction in Budapest, Hungary, from the summer bungalows they have been living in since October 1999. In October 1999, sixteen Romani families moved into the Bernie Club campground, with eight families moving out shortly thereafter. The remaining eight families have since then paid between 25,000 and 35,000 Hungarian forints per month (between 100 and 145 euros) for the bungalows, which they leased for three years from the subcontractor operating the campground. In November 2001, according to RSK, the owner of the campground told them that they had to be out by December 12, 2001. According to RSK, the owner has terminated the subcontractor’s lease contract, and as such, is treating the lease agreement of the eight Romani families as void also. RSK reports that, with the assistance of the Budapest-based Foundation for Romani Civil Rights, the families reached a deal with the owner whereby the families could stay, free-of-charge, until the end of March 2002, provided that they paid the utility bills. The families reportedly pay the utility bills, which are high, and as a result, according to RSK, at times some of the families have no food. The ERRC has previously, on August 9, 2000, sent a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, to express concerns about evictions of Roma in Hungary (see Forced Evictions in Hungary. Letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán ). The ERRC has never received a response to its letter.
(ERRC, Roma Press Center)