MINELRES: ERRC: Slovene Authorities Capitulate to Mob

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Nov 15 18:13:49 2006


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


Romani Community Relocated Following Death Threats, Mass Action

Organisations Urge Action to Prevent Forced Eviction

Ljubljana, Budapest, 6 November 2006.   The 
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the 
Slovene section of Amnesty International have 
sent a letter to Slovene Prime Minister Janez 
Jansa to express serious concern that Slovene 
authorities may be currently involved in 
facilitating the forced eviction of a Romani 
settlement near the village of Ambrus, following 
actions by a non-Romani mob. Police authorities 
have reportedly acted at certain points to 
protect the residents of the Romani settlement 
from direct and violent threats of the instigated 
mob. However, police did not intervene in a 
timely fashion, and authorities have to date 
failed adequately to condemn the activities of 
the majority community and the outbreak of 
durable and credible threats of racially 
motivated mob violence. The facts are as follows:

On 29 October, a group of around 30 Roma from 
Decja vas, near the village of Ambrus, 
municipality Ivancna Gorica, including a number 
of children, were evacuated to the Postojna 
refugee centre, a former military barracks, in 
order to protect them from local non-Roma.

This action was apparently undertaken as a result 
of a conflict arising from an incident occurring 
around one week previously, in which a non-Romani 
man was reportedly attacked by inhabitants of the 
settlement. He thereafter required emergency 
health treatment. Following the attack, on 23 
October, non-Romani villagers met and openly 
called for violence against local Roma. Police 
were reportedly present at the meeting, which was 
broadcast on national television, but failed to intervene.

Following the meeting, the entire Romani 
community fled from their homes into the forest. 
They spent several nights hiding in the forest in 
fear of retribution of non-Roma, who threatened 
the local Roma with a range of actions, including death.

On 28 October, the local Roma attempted to return 
to their homes under police protection. However, 
approximately 200 non-Roma local residents 
objected to the return of the Roma and, under 
threat of violence, demanded that authorities 
resettle the Romani community living there to the 
more suitable location “due to security and 
ecological reasons”. Local non-Roma reportedly 
maintained that “Roma would never return to the 
area”. Due to the credible and evident threat of 
mob violence, Slovene police blocked access to 
Romani settlement and special police units were brought in.

On the evening of 28 October, allegedly “all 
sides” reached an agreement that Roma would be 
temporary resettled to Postojna refugee centre. 
In the Postojna centre, there is running water 
and sanitary facilities, but there is no warm 
water and no heating. As a result, Mr. Jurij 
Zaletel, Head of the Sector for the Integration 
of Refugees and Aliens of the Ministry of 
Interior, said that Roma would be able to go to 
the nearby facility “Veliki Otok”, a closed 
detention centre for aliens, 2-3 times per week in order to have shower.

Slovene Human Rights Ombudsman Matjaz Hanzek has 
reportedly stated about the incident that the 
rule of law has been dangerously undermined, as 
“a mob which threatens with death can decide 
where someone will live”. He also warned that 
such treatment might serve as a signal to others 
and that this pattern might be repeated in the future.

The ERRC/Amnesty Slovenia letter notes that the 
police acted to protect members of the Romani 
community from those who threatened their safety. 
Recognising that the relocation of the community 
to temporary housing in Postojna may constitute a 
legitimate measure to ensure their safety, 
concern is nonetheless expressed that the 
continued presence of the community in Postojna 
may no longer be necessary or proportionate to 
address the initial threat. The organisations 
also observe in the letter that any such 
limitation on the rights to privacy and to 
adequate housing should be limited in time 
strictly to what is necessary in the 
circumstances. Acts of racial violence should be thoroughly
investigated.

In addition, police appear to have only begun to 
take seriously the gravity of the threats to 
persons concerned on 28 October, a number of days 
after the beginning of the episode. In the letter 
sent to Prime Minister Jansa, the letter 
expresses concern that authorities have not acted 
with due diligence to condemn and investigate 
what appeared to be racially motivated attacks, 
with a view to bring those responsible to justice.

The letter further expresses concern at reported 
plans to permanently relocate the affected Roma 
to alternate sites. The UN Committee on Economic, 
Social and Cultural Rights, commenting on the 
requirements of Article 11 of the International 
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 
has held that forced evictions are prima facie 
incompatible with the requirements of the 
Covenant. Irrespective of the nature of tenure, 
everyone should be afforded a degree of security 
of tenure. Any proposed relocation of the 
community should take place only following 
adequate opportunity for genuine consultation 
with those affected, adequate and reasonable 
notice for all affected persons prior to the 
scheduled date of eviction, due process of law, 
and in strict compliance with international human 
rights law. No form of discrimination  including 
the very serious harm of racial 
discrimination  is permissible in the 
implementation of removing persons from housing by force.

In the current case, a number of these 
fundamental protections appear to have been 
infringed. The community is apparently in danger 
of being forcibly evicted, in gross violation of 
their human rights. The solutions which appear to 
be proposed have not been developed following 
genuine consultation with the community, and they 
lack sufficient opportunities to challenge 
decisions before an appropriate tribunal. 
Furthermore, in capitulating to the intolerance 
of the majority, the authorities may be fostering racial discrimination.

The letter concludes by urging Prime Minister 
Jansa to take action to ensure that the human 
rights of the community affected by these attacks 
are respected, protected and fulfilled, as required by international
law.

Persons wishing to express concern about these events are urged to
contact:

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia
Mr. Janez Jansa
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia
Gregorciceva 20
1000 Ljubljana
Slovenia

_____________________________________________

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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