Two settlement bans and a fire in northeast Slovakia
07 November 1997
According to information received by the ERRC, the local councils of two villages in Northeast Slovakia, Ňagov and Rokytovce, near the town of Medzilaborce, issued settlement bans on Roma on July 16 and June 8 respectively. On July 21, the Roma settlement in the neighbouring village of Čabiny burnt to the ground in unclear circumstances.
According to the Legal Defence Bureau for Ethnic Minorities in Slovakia (LDBEMS), until 1989, several Roma families resided in a house in Ňagov, as well as in a farm co-operative building in Rokytovce. When the co-operative dismissed Roma employed there in May 1991, they were evicted from their housing, which had been associated with the farm jobs. Ever since then the Roma of the area have failed either to establish permanent residence in the area, or to establish permanent residence in the Czech Republic, to which several of them have attempted to emigrate. They have evidently drifted homeless for the past six years, alternately attempting to settle in the area or emigrate, neither of which has been successful for any significant period of time.
A short and necessarily incomplete chronology of the events following the eviction in 1991 is as follows: in June 1991, the Department of Social Affairs procured a trailer for the homeless Roma, but none of the villages in the area (Čabalovce, Čabiny, Krásny Brod, Ňagov, Rokytovce and Sukov) allowed the Roma to park the trailer in their locality. In December 1991, the Roma were housed in a homeless shelter in Medzilaborce. In March 1993, the Roma built dwellings for themselves in the district of the village Čabiny, near Sukov. These dwellings were allegedly later torn down by local villagers. Finally, following a short stay in Krásny Brod, in Spring 1997, some of the Roma established dwellings in Čabiny. A meeting of mayors from the district allegedly took place in late Spring or early Summer, at which it was decided to issue settlement bans and the two municipalities of Ňagov and Rokytovce subsequently did so. On July 21, while alt but one of the adult Roma were away from the Čabiny settlement, this burned to the ground.
Residence in Slovakia is contingent upon successful acquisition of a resident permit in a locality. In issuing the June 8 ban, the local authorities of Rokytovce allegedly also issued resolutions denying that the Roma who had resided there until 1989 had any legal claim on local residence in the village. The discriminatory denial of local residence permits to Roma in Slovakia has created a new population of post communist nomads in the country. According to the police in Medzilaborce, the fire is under investigation.