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Czech AI, ERRC criticize authorities' procedures with Romani tenants

Budapest/Prague, 7.8.2012 0:15, (ROMEA)

Amnesty International Czech Republic and the European Roma Rights Centre have called on local authorities in Ostrava to consider all alternative options for resolving the situation prior to evicting the Romani families from Přednádraží street. News server Romea.cz publishes their declaration in full below.

In relation to developments in the situation of the Romani residents of Přednádraží street in Ostrava, Amnesty International (AI) calls on the authorities to:

1) Ensure that evictions occur only as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted for resolving the situations of the families living on Přednádraží street;

2) Guarantee that no one will become homeless as a result of eviction. If the families must be evicted, the authorities should ensure substitute accommodation for them that corresponds to international standards. This means the housing must be accessible to the families from the standpoint of location and price and must guarantee access to water and basic services;

3) Negotiate effectively with the local Romani families involved in this onerous situation and strive with them to find housing options that meet international criteria with respect to location, price, and access to basic services.

Information about the situation on Přednádraží street in Ostrava:

On the morning of Friday 3 August 2012, more than 40 Romani families were instructed to vacate their homes. The buildings in which they live have been designated unfit for occupancy by the Building Works Authority. The local tenants were given only 24 hours to voluntarily move away from Přednádraží street. If they refused, there was a risk they would be evicted by force with the aid of police.

AI is informed that the authorities and owner did not take sufficient care of the residential buildings in recent years and never addressed the crisis situation with the wastewater system. Substitute accommodation was offered to 14 families in a residential hotel, but AI is informed that this hotel is inappropriate and does not meet international standards for substitute accommodation given its location, price, and the kind of access it offers to basic services. It is frequently the case that families with as many as nine members are expected to live in a single room in such hotels and pay twice as much for their accommodation as they previously did.

AI is informed that some of these families have already signed contracts for such new accommodations out of concern that they might otherwise end up on the street. Many of them do not actually want to move out of the locality.

No alternative housing has been offered to 30 of the families involved. The authorities are not adequately communicating about this situation with the families affected regarding their possible eviction or about available options for substitute accommodation.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Amnesty International, European Roma Rights Centre, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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