Slovak Towns in Dispute Over Where to House Roma
13 November 2006
According to information provided to the ERRC by the Bratislava- based Milan Simecka Foundation (MSF), local authorities in the northwestern Slovak town of Puchov decided to evict between 35 and 40 Romani individuals with rent and utility arrears from municipally owned flats in the centre of town and relocate them to the nearby village of Nimnica. MSF reported that Puchov municipality purchased a building in Nimnica as replacement housing for the affected Roma but local residents protested against the move in May 2006, forming a human chain to stop the Roma from moving in as they arrived on trucks. The result of the protest was to stall the move and the mayor of Nimnica discovered an administrative error – the family house is reportedly missing a permit – which has stalled the situation even further.
During a radio discussion with the MSF, the mayor of Puchov defended the policy of the town to relocate the Romani individuals to another town, stating that the town could simply evict the affected Roma, leaving them in the street as opposed to providing them housing in the nearby village. The mayor also stated that the municipality may still do so if Nimnica authorities continue to block the move. According to MSF as of 19 September, no evictions had taken place and an administrative body was considering issues related to the building in Nimnica.
The actions of Puchov municipal authorities are reminiscent of segregatory practices in other parts of Slovakia, whereby Romani individuals with rental arrears are evicted and relocated to other towns. Protests against such movements of Roma are also widespread, as many Slovak citizens do not want (more) Roma living in their towns. While the efforts of the Puchov municipality to provide alternative accommodation for the affected Roma rather than simply leaving them on the street is a welcome move, the ERRC notes that this move will contribute to the already widespread segregation of Roma in Slovakia.