Demolition of Romani Houses in Kaliningrad, Russia

24 February 2006

Kaliningrad Governor Urged to Stop Inhuman Treatment of Romani Families

Budapest. The European Roma Rights Centre today sent a letter to the Governor of Kalinigrad region, Mr Georgiy Boos, urging him to intervene and stop the demolition of Romani houses Dorozhny village of Kaliningrad. The ERRC expressed concern that the actions of the Kaliningrad authorities had exposed Romani families to homelessness in violation of international human rights law.

The full text of the letter:

Dear Mr Boos,

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) is an international public interest law organisation, which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and provides legal defense in cases of human rights abuse. The ERRC expresses deep concern regarding the demolition of Romani houses in the Dorozhny village, in Kaliningrad region. According to reports from the International Roma Union of Baltic States and the CIS, and publications in "Komsomolskaya pravda" (Kaliningrad), in February 2006, the city authorities of Kaliningrad sent bulldozers to demolish the houses of Romani families. The forced evictions undertaken by the authorities expose 4 Romani families, including children and women, to homelessness. This situation is aggravated by the severe weather conditions in the Kaliningrad region at this time of the year.

The ERRC notes that the actions of the city administration are in breach of a number of international as well as domestic human rights provisions, in particular:

a) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which the Russian Federation is a party, and which states at Article 11(1): "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right [...]";

b) UN Committee on ESC Rights General Comment No. 4 on adequate housing under Article 11(1) of the Covenant, para. 18 of which reads: "[the Committee] considers that instances of forced eviction are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the Covenant and can only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances, and in accordance with the relevant principles of international law."

c) UN Committee on ESC Rights General Comment No. 7 on forced eviction Paragraph 16 of which provides: "Evictions should not result in individuals being rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. Where those affected are unable to provide for themselves, the State party must take all appropriate measures, to the maximum of its available resources, to ensure that adequate alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land, as the case may be, is available."

d) The Constitution of the Russian Federation, whose Article 40.2 provides: "The bodies of state authority and local self government shall encourage housing construction and create conditions for exercising the right to a home."

Dear Mr Boos,

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) urges you to immediately cease the demolition of the Romani houses in the Dorozhny village and start consultations with the Romani families to find an appropriate solution to their housing situation. The ERRC and other domestic and international organisations will continue monitoring the actions of the Russian authorities with respect to the housing rights crisis affecting the Romani families in the Dorozhny village and will report to domestic and international human rights bodies as well as media.

Sincerely yours,

Dimitrina Petrova,
Executive Director


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