MINELRES: ERRC: Rights Organizations Condemn Roma Evictions in Russia

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Jul 11 20:18:02 2006

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

Call for Protection of Hundreds of Roma Rendered Homeless in Kaliningrad

Budapest, July 5, 2006. The Open Society Justice Initiative and the 
European Roma Rights Centre today condemned the forced eviction and 
destruction of homes belonging to more than 200 Roma, including over 
100 children, in the village of Dorozhnoe, in Russia's Kaliningrad

>From May 29 to June 2, authorities bulldozed 37 houses belonging to 
Roma families and set fire to the ruins. The destruction followed 
flawed proceedings in the Russian courts that denied the Roma 
fundamental due process.

Over 100 of the displaced Roma, who had lived legally for years in 
their homes, are currently in tents and other temporary shelters and 
are being threatened with physical expulsion from their land. Others 
have fled elsewhere or been expelled from the area.

"This wanton attack on the Roma of Dorozhnoe must cease immediately," 
said Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the European Roma 
Rights Centre. "The Russian authorities must provide the now-homeless 
Roma with humanitarian aid and adequate compensation for their 
losses, and restore legal title to their property."

Regional authorities began their eviction campaign by initiating 
court proceedings to have the Roma families' ownership of their homes 
declared illegal. An attorney with the Justice Initiative and local 
counsel appeared before the local high court to assist the families 
in securing legal title to their properties. But in proceedings that 
violated fundamental standards of due process, the court issued 
decisions on May 3, 2006 rejecting the families' claims and opening 
the door to the forced evictions that would follow.

The Justice Initiative then filed a request for interim measures with 
the European Court of Human Rights, which was denied.

The Justice Initiative will pursue an application with the European 
Court of Human Rights on behalf of several of the families.

"The destruction of this community is especially brazen at a time 
when Russia holds the presidency of the G8 and is hosting the G8 
Summit in St. Petersburg," said James A. Goldston, Executive Director 
of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Additional information is available at www.errc.org and 

Contact: Dimitrina Petrova +36 1 413 2200 (Budapest)
Contact: James A. Goldston +1 212 548 0118 (New York)

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public 
interest law organisation engaging in a range of activities aimed at 
combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma. The 
approach of the ERRC involves, in particular, strategic litigation, 
international advocacy, research and policy development, and training 
of Romani activists. The ERRC is a cooperating member of the 
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and has 
consultative status with the Council of Europe, as well as with the 
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. www.errc.org

The Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the 
Open Society Institute (OSI), pursues law reform activities grounded 
in the protection of human rights, and contributes to the development 
of legal capacity for open societies worldwide. The Justice 
Initiative combines litigation, legal advocacy, technical assistance, 
and the dissemination of knowledge to secure advances in five 
priority areas: national criminal justice, international justice, 
freedom of information and expression, equality and citizenship, and 
anticorruption. Its offices are in Abuja, Budapest, and New York. 

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