Unsuccessful Relocation of Romani Community
07 February 2004
On April 29, 2003, the Council of the Kato Kastritsi Compartment of the Municipality of Rio, northwestern Peloponesse, convened a meeting on the relocation of seven Romani families, currently living in prefabricated houses, to land long owned by the families, where they would live in prefabricated homes. According to the minutes of the meeting, received on May 12, 2003, by the ERRC and partner the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), Mr Spyros Politis, Chairman of the Kato Kastritsi Compartment Council, tabled a motion that the relocation of Romani families was in breach of provisions of the Common Ministerial Decree of the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Minister of Health No. A5/696/1983 "Sanitary Provision for the Organised Relocation of Wandering Nomads" and town planning regulations. The Romani group from Kato Kastritsi is not itinerant but rather registered as permanent residents in Rio's municipal records. The Council unanimously adopted Mr Politis' motion and forwarded the resolution to various local authorities.
ERRC/GHM research revealed that, on an unspecified date prior to the April 29 meeting, ethnic Greek residents of Kato Kastritsi forwarded a letter of protest to the Chairman of the Municipal Council of Rio, in which they stated that they would not tolerate a Romani settlement in their area, because they consider it to be degrading for the area. Moreover, they threatened to initiate civil proceedings for compensation in the event that the settlement was created, on grounds that the settlement would devalue their property. The letter was copied to local authorities and various media sources. On July 12, 2003, a state official informed the ERRC/GHM that the Prefect of Achaia, with whom responsibility lies for the approval of relocation of Romani communities, did not approve the relocation of the seven Romani families. The Municipality of Rio had previously spent approximately 30,000 Euro landscaping the land on which the prefabricated houses were to be installed.