Tag: roma rights
The right to adequate housing is a fundamental right and a crucial prerequisite for a decent life and personal development. The record of Slovak authorities on providing adequate housing for its citizens is dismal and Roma are disproportionately affected by this failure.
As a lawyer I am used to situations when people are eager to litigate and fight for their rights. Before I started working for the ERRC, the normal situation for me was to meet clients seeking legal help (advice or representation). Even though I had worked with human rights cases before, I had never encountered a situation where the lawyer struggled to set up a case and convince clients to go ahead with the litigation. That simply isn’t what lawyering is about, I thought. It turns out I was wrong. Lawyering at the ERRC is different.
Something happened in the early summer of 2013, and by the time I started my job here a few weeks later, it had already become legendary. George Soros visited the ERRC. Impressing Mr Soros is important; his Open Society Foundations helped set us up and continue to support us. I imagine everyone was told months in advance he was coming. My messiest colleagues probably cleaned their desks. Some people surely spent a few extra minutes picking out their clothes that morning. What I know for sure was that someone laid out plenty of thick and thin, bright-red ERRC reports on the meeting-room table. These caught Mr Soros’s eye. He picked up a particularly thick one and looked at it. And then he said it: “Who reads these?”
During a panel discussion last week at the PILnet European pro bono forum, the question was put to us whether there was a risk that those litigating Roma rights might lose touch with the wishes of Roma litigants. The concern was that complex and lengthy legal battles might become unrecognisable to those supposedly waging them.
This is the celebration of a double first, I am celebrating the completion of my first month at the helm of ERRC, and this marks my very first ever blog entry. You may think I am being frivolous, I assure you that I am not. At this mature stage in my life I have seen and done quite a few things, so for me a first is a rare and precious thing, let alone a double first.