Ongoing Evictions of Roma in Greece
18 May 2007
Roma in Greece still do not benefit from protection against forced evictions, despite international rulings ordering Greece to improve its record in the area, according to a 22 September 2006 letter of concern by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) to the Greek Prime Minister, Mr Kostas Karamanlis. In its letter, COHRE noted several forced evictions and threatened evictions of Romani families that took place during the summer months.
For instance, on 2 and 3 August 2006, municipal authorities in the city of Patras served notice of urgent police measures to evict approximately forty- five Romani families residing in the Makrigianni district. However, beginning on 24 August, before a pending court ruling could be issued regarding the authorisation of these measures, municipal authorities began to demolish the remaining Romani homes in the Makrigianni and Riganokampos districts, claiming these were "cleaning operations of abandoned sheds." These evictions closely followed a similar action in Patras when, on 27 July, Patras municipal authorities demolished the homes of thirteen Romani families living in the Makrigianni district while the occupants were away for seasonal work.
Earlier, according to COHRE, on 18 July, in the Kladiso area of Hania on the island of Crete, an inter-municipal "ecological" company, with police assistance, demolished ten Romani homes without a court order, while the occupants were away.
At the time of COHRE's letter, over 200 Romani households were facing eviction in the Votanikos district of Athens. The homes of the affected individuals are reportedly situated on land designated for the construction of a football stadium. However, COHRE stated that Athens municipal authorities had not discussed relocation with the residents and had not presented a court order at the time of its report. On 1 August, COHRE and eight other organisations sent a letter of concern to the then Mayor of Athens and Foreign Minister, Dora Bakoyannis, but did not receive a response.
In its letter to Prime Minister Karamanlis, COHRE requested the immediate cessation of all forced evictions; the allowance of forced evictions only in the most exceptional circumstances; the provision of feasible alternatives for further planned evictions, through a process of genuine consultation with affected people; and the provision of adequate alternative accommodation and compensation to all evicted families, in those exceptional cases where evictions are absolutely necessary.
As of the date this edition went to press there was no answer from the Greek authorities to the letter of concern. According to information provided by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), on January 30, 2007, the Athens Prefect and a team of public health inspectors visited the Romani settlements in the area of Votanikos and acknowledged the dire conditions and health risks, especially for children. They committed to clean the area and relocate the communities to more suitable living conditions.