"Guests of Mrs. Scukova" Action Challenges Housing Segregation in Bohumin
01 February 2006
On the evening of October 4, 2005, in a gesture of solidarity aimed at raising public awareness, a number of parties concerned at racial segregation in the field of housing in the Czech Republic spent the night in the flats of four families threatened with forcible expulsion from their homes in the northern Czech town of Bohumin. The guests included Czech government's Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Svatopluk Karasek and members of his staff; Deputy Ombudsman Ms. Anna Sabatova; as well as members of the civil organisations Life Together, League of Human Rights and the European Roma Rights Centre. The families have been under threat of forced eviction since June, when municipal officials informed them that, following expiry on June 30 of their rental contracts to stay in a hostel for low-income and other poor families, they would have to move out, along with approximately 250 other inhabitants of the hostel. The majority of the persons affected are Romani.
An appeal on behalf of the families by five non-governmental organisations including the ERRC, sent to Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek on June 30 remains as yet unanswered and without any apparent effect. (For information on the appeal see:
Under intense pressure and harassment by municipal officials, most of the families have left the building, despite having been provided with no reasonable alternative housing. Until issued with eviction orders, they have been long-term legal tenants of the building. Some have emigrated from the Czech Republic, having abandoned hope of a life with dignity in the country. The failure to secure the basic well-being of the persons concerned calls into question the Czech Republic's compliance with a number of its international law obligations. However, four families have stayed on, and brought legal challenges against the evictions. Mrs. Scukova was moved to challenge the evictions after municipal officials urged her to separate from her husband so that she might move into a shelter for single mothers.
By way of retribution, the city of Bohumin has undertaken a number of arbitrary acts against the families, including engaging a private security company to guard the door of the hostel and to block anyone but persons living there – including close family members – from entering the building. For the services of this security company, the city of Bohumin has issued monthly bills to the families concerned. As a result of these measures, Mrs. Scukova, who previously was a fastidious rent- and utilities- payer, has accrued approximately 110,000 Czech crowns of debt (approximately 3,710 Euro). She and her family will not be eligible for social housing in the Czech Republic until this debt is repaid.
On September 15, a court in Karvina ruled against Mrs. Scukova's appeal against the eviction order, and gave her 15 days to move out. As of November 8, 2005, the court in Karvina has ruled against the three additional claims brought by the other remaining families. All cases will be appealed as soon as the decisions are issued in writing.
The threatened expulsion of these families from their housing is part of a dramatic expansion of efforts at racial segregation in the field of housing in the Czech Republic in recent years, a problem of which the Czech government is aware. Despite this awareness, as of 2002, there have been no changes made in housing legislation regarding protection against discrimination and no government programme exists to reverse racial segregation in the field of housing.
(ERRC, Life Together)