40 Roma Homeless Following Evictions in Slovakia

01 February 2006

The Slovak daily newspaper SME reported that on June 15, 2005, a private security agency evicted 40 Roma, including women and children, from an abandoned apartment building in Kosice, Slovakia owned by Slovak National Railroad company ZSR, and then partially demolished the building to prevent their return. Roma moved into the building, which had no public services, solid or sewage waste removal, more than 10 years ago. Originally some residents possessed legal rights to live in the building, but the vast majority were illegal squatters. Eventually the city moved the legal residents to other housing, leaving the building inhabited solely by squatters.

Following complaints from the Kosice community and pressure from the municipal government, ZSR rented the building out to a private company expected to purchase the building eventually. However, when the deal fell through, ZSR gave notice to the Roma living there that they must leave by June 14, and when the residents failed to do so, ZSR hired the private security company to expel them by force.

At the time of the forced eviction, some of the former residents planned to move in with friends and family in the nearby slums, while others will remain in the streets. According to a spokeswoman for the city interviewed by an SME journalist, "they have to find housing for themselves. All of them had a permanent address on record somewhere else, so they should return to those addresses. The city is not the owner of the building and we are not responsible." As of December 2005, the ERRC was unable to ascertain further details regarding developments in this situation.



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