Municipal authorities block settlement of Roma in Slovakia
03 April 1999
The Slovak daily Sme reported on November 28, 1998, that officials in the south-eastern Slovak town of Jelšava had taken a decision to refuse to grant residence permits to Roma moving there. According to the article, five Romani families who had recently purchased homes in Jelšava had been denied residence permits and therefore been unable to settle in the town legally. The Slovak daily Národná Obroda further reported on November 30 that Jelšava Mayor Ondrej Mladší had said, "The denial of permanent residence was caused by Jelšava citizens' fear of a wave of Romani migration into abandoned Jelšava houses, which are selling for relatively low prices". While Mladší reportedly acknowledged that the town's conduct was in breach of law, he said that the town's representatives were acting "under the pressure of citizens who fear deterioration of the socio-economic and crime situation in the town". According to the mayor, "we had to act the way we did to discourage others from the intention of moving to Jelšava and to draw attention to this Slovak-wide problem, about which nothing is being done". Slovak authorities have sought to block the movement of Roma into municipalities in a number of instances since 1989 (see ERRC country report Time of the Skinheads: Denial and Exclusion of Roma in Slovakia). Most famously, in July 1997, authorities in the northeastern towns of Ňagov and Rokytovce issued resolutions explicitly banning Roma from settling inside the borders of the two towns (see "Snapshots from around Europe", Roma Rights, Autumn 1997). The ERRC filed an application at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in connection with this ban on March 12, 1999 (see the "Legal defence" section of this issue of Roma Rights, page 52).
(Národná Obroda, Sme)