Forced Eviction of One Romani Community Stopped, While Others Continue in Hungary
07 February 2004
On October 8, 2003, Ms Erika Sallai, a Romani woman from a settlement located just outside the central Hungarian town Keszthely, along the highway to Hévíz, informed the ERRC that on October 7, 2003, an unknown man served five Romani heads of families from the settlement with eviction orders. Ms Sallai reported that the homes in which the Roma lived without legal permission were property of the local government. According to the eviction orders of Ms Erika Sallai, her husband Mr György Bodgán and Mr Jószef Titi, the eviction was to be conducted at 10:00 AM on October 29, 2003, in the presence of police officers. Ms Sallai and Mr Titi stated that they had not received any offer for alternative accommodation from the local government and that, as they are unemployed, they cannot afford other housing of their own accord. Two other families, who live in their homes with legal permission, were not served with eviction orders. In total, 21 Romani residents, including 15 Romani children, face homelessness as a result of the impending eviction. On October 23, 2003, the ERRC sent a letter of concern to Mayor József Mohácsi, informing him that forced evictions violate Hungary's obligations under international law and requesting that the evictions be postponed or cancelled, particularly with regard to the coming of cold weather. On November 5, 2003, Roma from the settlement informed the ERRC that the local government had postponed the eviction.
Finally, on June 18, 2003, 20 Romani families were evicted from their homes on Szállás Street in Budapest's 10th District, only one day after 50 police officers and civil guards had surrounded the settlement and informed residents that they would be evicted, according to the Budapest-based Romani organisation Foundation for Romani Civil Rights. According to the Budapest-based Roma Press Center (RSK), on June 25, 2003, the families had been living in the abandoned property in the vicinity of a former chemical industry plan in Kőbánya, in southern Budapest. Two small children, aged 1 and 5, were allegedly taken into state custody on grounds that they had been raised in surroundings immediately jeopardising their physical health. However, another 40 minors were left with their families. Ms Jánosné Pintér, Manager of the Köbánya Municipal Welfare Office, was quoted as having stated, "if the residents don't leave the area, more children will be taken into state custody." The Foundation for Romani Civil Rights tried unsuccessfully for weeks before the eviction to reach a solution with the local authorities. According to the RSK, Mr Jenö Setét, Social Director of the Foundation for Romani Civil Rights, expressed surprise at the actions of the 10th District government as they had allegedly promised to provide support in the amount of 500,000 Hungarian forints (approximately 1,940 euro) to help cover the cost of future rent. On November 28, 2003, the Foundation for Romani Civil Rights informed the ERRC that the 10th District government provided accommodation for only two families, including seven children, but that it had found flats for three of the families in Budapest and four additional people had moved into a homeless shelter. The remaining families moved in with relatives in the countryside.
(ERRC, Foundation for Romani Civil Rights, Roma Press Center)