Forced Eviction of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina

07 November 2002

Local police forcibly moved around three hundred Roma from their temporary settlement in an abandoned pensioners home in the Nedžarići neighbourhood of Sarajevo on September 23, 2002, reported the Banja Luka-based daily newspaper Nezavisne novine on September 24, 2002. ERRC field investigation, conducted in co-operation with the Bijeljina-based non-governmental organisation Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Republika Srpska (HCHRRS), revealed that most of the Roma, who had been living in the building for around two years, were internally displaced persons from the entity known as "Republika Srpska" and the Brčko district, which is under international administration. On October 15, 2002, Mr Mustafa Ćorić, Assistant Minister for Social Policy, Labour, Refugees and Displaced Persons in the Sarajevo Canton, told the ERRC/HCHRRS, "The eviction took place without incident. We have provided good accommodation for the evicted families. Most of the Roma from Republika Srpska and the Brčko district were given free accommodation for six months in apartments in the Gladno Polje locality in the municipality of Ilidža in three buildings owned by cantonal authorities. Private houses have been rented for the remainder. They only have to pay for water, electricity and heating and the families that obey the building regulations may be able to prolong their stay. Refugees from the Republika Srpska again have the opportunity to regulate their status." ERRC/HCHRRS field investigation revealed that some of the Romani families were provided with transportation to their pre-war residences. Apparently, the eviction took place one month after the cantonal authorities held a meeting with the local authorities at which the latter complained of the "noise and disorder" that the Roma allegedly created. According to the newspaper, the removal was carried out by the police force, officials of the Centre for Social Work of the Sarajevo Canton, and representatives of the Cantonal Ministry for Social Policy, Labour, Refugees and Displaced Persons.

On October 16, 2002, the ERRC/HCHRRS met with Roma who had been moved from the pensioners home to the Gladno Polje locality. Mr Hazim Mujić, a 26-year-old Romani man stated that although the accommodation in Gladno Polje was better than the pensioners home, "Since we arrived here, we have not received any aid from municipal or cantonal authorities. We were told that we would get food and clothing, but nothing has arrived." Ms Zurijeta Osmanović, a 44-year-old Romani woman stated, "The apartment is good, but many of us live in it. My husband, four children and I live here with five members of my sister's family. None of us work. I want to work, but nobody wants to employ Gypsies, and we still haven't received any social aid." As of November 1, 2002, the homes of the Roma returned to their pre-war residences in Bosnia and Herzegovina were unavailable and Roma brought to pre-war homes were instead staying with family and friends, as no alternative accommodation had been provided, according to ERRC/HCHRRS research.

Prior to being evicted, the inhabitants of the settlement had also been subject to an abusive police raid several months earlier. On June 29, 2002, the Sarajevo-based daily newspaper Dnevni avaz reported that, late in the evening on June 27, 2002, seventy-six police officers from the Sarajevo Canton allegedly raided the pensioners home. According to Dnevni avaz, police surrounded the temporary settlement and performed an intensive identification check on the three hundred Roma living in the settlement. Dnevni avaz reported that the police violently searched through the belongings of Roma living in the settlement and scared the Romani inhabitants. Mr Abaz Mešković, a Romani man living in the settlement, was quoted in the newspaper as having stated that the police were masked and did not provide an explanation for the search. According to reports, police temporarily confiscated two pistols, one truncheon and one saber. On July 27, 2002, the Bosnian radio station Radio BORAM reported that the police claimed that the search was conducted following reports of drug trafficking in the settlement. However, according to Dnevni avaz, the police reported that they did not find any drugs during the search. Further information on the situation of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found on the ERRC's Internet website at:

(Dnevni avaz, ERRC, HCHRRS, Nezavisne novine, Oslobodjenje, Radio BORAM)


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