MINELRES: Bulgarian Authorities Urged to Halt Forced Evictions of Roma

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Jul 3 10:18:23 2006


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


International organisations call for halt to planned eviction wave in
Bulgaria

29 June, 2006, Budapest, Geneva, Sofia: The Sofia Municipality in the 
Vazrazhdane district has announced that on 30 June 2006 it will forcibly 
evict Roma families from the Batalova vodenitza neighbourhood, also 
known as NPZ Sredetz. Many of the families have lived in this 
neighbourhood for almost a century and are now threatened with 
homelessness, as the Municipality has not offered compensation or 
resettlement.

Furthermore, in May 2006, vice-mayor of the Sofia City Council, Tsvetan 
Tsvetanov announced that all 'illegal' Roma settlements would be 
'liquidated' and gave the mayors of Sofia municipalities 20 days to draw 
up a list of such settlements.

International human rights organisations, the Centre on Housing Rights 
and Evictions (COHRE) and The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), have 
called for a halt to the planned eviction wave of Roma in Sofia in a 
letter addressed to the President of Bulgaria.

COHRE Executive Director, Jean du Plessis, condemned the announcement 
saying, "No details were provided on the new strategy and there was 
no guarantee that the human rights of Roma would be respected. When a 
similar announcement was made in August last year, it led to devastating 
consequences for 24 Romani families in the Hristo Botev neighbourhood of 
Sofia: they lost their homes and were not provided with any 
resettlement."

The Batalova vodenitza neighbourhood now faces a similar fate. The 
families, due to be evicted tomorrow, are only entitled to one-time 
support in the amount of BGN 275 (approximately Euro 130). They have 
now filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights.

ERRC Programmes Director, Claude Cahn, condemned the approach of the 
authorities, "We call for an immediate stop to the planned eviction 
because it is an assault on a range of fundamental rights of Roma. 
The threatened evictions of the Romani families in Batalova 
vodenitza, as well as in other parts of the country, are the extreme 
face of the decades-long failure of the Bulgarian state to ensure the 
access of Roma to adequate housing."

Other communities also face impending eviction. The Municipality in 
Vazrazhdane has issued eviction notices to the 16 families of a 
different community that is also called Batalova vodenitza. Despite 
the community residing on this land since 1926, the families were 
informed on 26 June 2006 that they now have 14 days to object to 
notices. The Regional Directorate on Control of Illegal Constructions 
will then have the power to forbid the use of the buildings and cut 
off electricity and water supplies.

Under international human rights law, Bulgaria has clear obligations 
to ensure that evictions only occur in exceptional circumstances, 
with due process and with the provision of alternative accommodation. 
Bulgaria's record on upholding the housing rights of Roma is now 
under close scrutiny by the Strasbourg-based European Committee on 
Social Rights in the case of ERRC v Bulgaria.

The full text of the COHRE/ERRC letter to the Bulgarian President is 
available at:
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2605

For further information, contact:

Malcolm Langford, Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions, +49 163 820 
1133, malcolm@cohre.org
Savelina Danova, European Roma Rights Center, Mobile: +36 20 98 36 
445, savelina@errc.org
_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest 
law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal 
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about 
the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at 
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax: +36 1 4132201
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