Eviction of Romanies in Vsetin was mistake - Czech Ombudsman
The town hall of Vsetin, north Moravia, made a mistake when it moved out Romany rent-defaulters from the town's centre in the autumn, Czech Ombudsman Otakar Motejl told journalists today.
However, Vsetin town hall rejects the criticism.
The town hall was then headed by Jiri Cunek, now Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader and Local Development Minister.
Motejl said that the export of socially excluded families from municipalities in which the families have long been living cannot be accepted as an efficient solution.
He said that a good solution can be achieved through cooperation between social workers, NGOs, Romany families and local authorities.
Cunek said he agreed with this, but said that the town hall did its utmost in the case. He added that "the ombudsman should have rather deal with the problem what to do with a rent-defaulters who is evicted, irrespective of the colour of their skin."
The ombudsman's report will be available on the websitewww.ochrance.cz.
The Ombudsman Office checked the conditions under which the demolition of the ramshackle apartment house where the Romany families lived was permitted.
It concluded that Vsetin authorities acted against the construction law as they did not care for the house for more than ten years, allowing it to become dilapidated.
The office challenged the town hall's argument that the families had to leave the house due to unhealthy living conditions. Motejl said that the state of the houses to which the Romanies moved was no better than that of their original home.
Some of the Romany families were moved to container flats on Vsetin outskirts, while others were sent away from Vsetin and resettled elsewhere in Moravia.
The report writes that the resettlement violated the basic rights for respecting family and private life. Motejl said that Vsetin should allow the families to return to the town and let them request a municipal flat.
The town hall dismisses the criticism. "The ombudsman's report has some 50 pages and it positively assesses some of our steps. We disagree with the simplified interpretation that we erred," Eva Stejskalova, spokeswoman for the town hall, told CTK today.
The step provoked a lot of controversy. It was strongly criticised by NGOs focusing on human rights, Romany associations and a number of politicians.
Motejl's office also focused on how social benefits were paid to the Romanies and whether they were satisfied in their new homes.
Cunek faces strong criticism also over a police accusation of bribe taking. The opposition demands his leave as cabinet minister.
The government position of Cunek was further affected when he made statements about Romanies in March that some call xenophobic while far-right extremists welcome them.
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