Czech Supreme Administrative Court upholds homeless Romani family's appeal of eviction, returns case to Regional Court
The Czech Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) has overturned a verdict from the Regional Court in Ústí nad Labem in a 2018 case about the eviction of a Romani family from a residential hotel in Ústí nad Labem that closed down after the city announced it was implementing so-called "benefit-free zones" on its territory. In their lawsuit against the city, the family said an unlawful infringement of their rights had been committed and asked the court to abolish the measures through which the "benefit-free zones" had been announced.
The Regional Court refused to even hear the family's lawsuit. The NSS has now decided that was unlawful.
The NSS criticized the approach taken by the Regional Court when it rejected the lawsuit on the basis of the complainants allegedly lacking active legitimacy in the procedure. The NSS also said the measure announcing the "benefit-free zone" could have harmed the rights of the complainants, especially their right to housing and to private life.
There is a second part to the case, about the city unlawfully infringing the rights of the evicted family, that the NSS has yet to rule on. "By means of this decision the NSS, of course, is not indicating whether the complainants will be successful with their complaint, it just means that the Regional Court will have to review the facts," presiding NSS Justice Jaroslav Vlašín told the daily Mladá fronta DNES.
The Forum for Human Rights and Konexe organizations, which helped bring the case, stated in a joint press release sent to news server Romea.cz that "Ever since they were evicted from the residential hotel, this family, who have five children, have been unsuccessfully seeking dignified, stable housing, they have been moving from shelter to shelter. To find a stable sublet on the commercial rental market is essentially impossible for this family because of their Romani ethnicity."
For more than two years now, a motion filed by senators to abolish the part of the law on aid to those in material distress that facilitates the declaration of "benefit-free zones" has been waiting for the Czech Constitutional Court to rule on it. The intolerable situation in housing in the Czech Republic, including the existence of such zones, were also the reason for a collective complaint being filed against the country in February by the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) with the Council of Europe's European Committee of Social Rights, which supervises how States Parties honor their commitments under the European Social Charter.
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