Roma Forcibly Evicted in Slovakia
07 February 2004
On July 20, 2003, private landlords used dogs when forcibly evicting approximately 40 Romani families and five non-Romani families residing in two buildings at 17 and 18 Mlynárska Street in the southern Slovak city of Košice, in the presence of the ERRC. Many of the evicted Roma moved in with family or acquaintances because they believed alternative accommodation provided by the landlord in the building known as "Kosmalt" was not fit for human habitation. One four-member family stayed at Kosmalt for approximately one month, then moved to the village Prakovce about 50 kilometres from Košice.
The Romani tenants had lived in the two buildings since 1986, under contract with various owners. In 1993, the Roma were forced to change their long-term rental contracts to limited-term housing accommodation contracts. Since about April 2003, the co-owners of the building, Cassovia Realitas Invest Ltd. and Temporia, exerted pressure on the Romani tenants, in an apparent effort to force them to leave the buildings. Cassovia Realitas Invest Ltd. and Temporia reportedly threatened the tenants, and increased the fees payable for services such as water without a legitimate reason. The company also placed bars on the entrance to the buildings and informed the tenants that only those who signed new contracts were permitted to enter the building and their flats. In March 2003, the Romani tenants engaged the Bratislava-based League of Human Rights Advocates (LHRA) to deal with their case relating to their high fees and non-maintenance of the building. At the beginning of August 2003, the ERRC took over legal representation in the case, in co-operation with the LHRA and local lawyer Ms Adriana Krajníková. The local court in Košice has since ordered the landlords to allow the evicted tenants of 17 and 18 Mlynárska Street to return to their flats, pending the court's final decision.