MINELRES: ERRC: First court victory for Roma based on the new Bulgarian anti-discrimination act

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Jul 27 18:55:41 2004


Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org> 



Romani woman refused services in Sofia shop awarded damages by Bulgarian
court

26 July 2004

On 23 July 2004, in a case brought by local counsel acting on behalf of
the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and the Romani Baht Foundation
(RBF), the Sofia District court ruled against a company called VALI
EOOD, and awarded compensation to Sevda Nanova in the amount of 300
euros on account of the non-pecuniary damages suffered. Ms. Nanova is a
Romani women and was found by the Court to have been discriminated
against in access to services, solely on the basis of her race.

VALI EOOD operates a clothing shop in a Sofia marketplace. Acting
through its employees, it refused to provide services to Ms. Nanova and
banned her from its premises. In doing so, the company's staff
threatened Ms. Nanova with violence and repeatedly resorted to extreme
forms of verbal abuse with respect to her Romani origin.

The Court found that such conduct amounts to direct discrimination based
on ethnic origin and is therefore in violation of Bulgarian law. This is
the first ruling by a Bulgarian court based on the country's new
comprehensive anti-discrimination act, which entered into force on 1
January 2004. The act prohibits discrimination by public as well as
private parties in all fields of public life, including in the provision
of services. It also provides for a special judicial remedy against
discrimination and the shift of the burden of proof onto the alleged
discriminator, once a complainant has established a plausible case of
discrimination. The act was adopted with the active involvement of
domestic and international human rights groups, including the ERRC and
the RBF.

On the occasion of the ruling by the Bulgarian court, ERRC Executive
Director Dimitrina Petrova said: "Laws are only as good as their
implementation. In the case of Ms. Nanova, the Sofia District Court
clearly recognised the need to implement the principle of equal
treatment and to correct the injustice Ms. Nanova suffered. We welcome
the ruling."

For additional details regarding the above lawsuit, please contact
Branimir Plese, ERRC Legal Director (e-mail: branko@errc.org, phone:+361
413 2200) and/or Daniela Mihailova RBF Legal Director (e-mail:
mihailova@hotmail.com, phone: +359223 1303)

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) is an international public
interest law organization engaging in a range of activities aimed at
combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma, in
particular strategic litigation, international advocacy, research and
policy development, and training of Romani activists. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC
website at http://www.errc.org.

The Romani Baht Foundation (RDF), established in 1997, is a human rights
organization which works for the protection of Roma rights. Its
activities include legal defense and representation of Romani victims of
human rights abuse, awareness raising campaigns, strategic litigation,
lobbying before governmental institutions, desegregation projects,
increasing the quality and improving the access to education of Romani
children and adults, social programs, youth exchange programs, and the
provision of training for members of the judiciary, Romani NGOs and
police officials.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary
Phone:+36 1 4132200
Fax:+36 1 4132201

Romani Baht Foundation
8 Nov Jivot Street
Sofia 1373
Bulgaria
Phone: +359 2 231303
Fax: +359 2 9204272
_____________________________________________

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