Romanian town must finally compensate some members of a forcibly evicted Romani community
An appeals court has upheld a decision by a first-instance court in Constanța, Romania ordering the Mayor of Eforie to pay compensation to families of Romani origin who were evicted from their homes in 2013. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has reported the news in a press release.
The case concerns 12 Romani men and women forcibly evicted from Agricola Street, each of whom is meant to be paid roughly EUR 36 000. On top of that, the local authority must arrange social housing for each family.
The lawsuit was brought by the ERRC and the nonprofit organization RomaJust in Romania. “This is a great achievement for this Romani community, and an important message to send to those who forcibly evict other Roma in Romania and across Europe,” emphasized ERRC President Đorđe Jovanović.
The eviction took place on 27 September 2013 and affected Romani people who had lived in 22 homes on Agricola Street for almost 40 years. It was performed by about 80 police officers and town staff with the aid of bulldozers, under the personal supervision of the Deputy Mayor of Eforie.
More than 100 people, 55 of whom were children, were made homeless when their houses were demolished without any prior consultation or arrangement for adequate alternative housing for them. During the demolition, local media reported that the Deputy Mayor was heard threatening the resisting Roma, saying “If you don’t come out [of your homes], we’re going to kill you here.”
According to the ERRC, the evictees then had no choice but to live outdoors in temporary shelters. Some eventually took refuge in an abandoned school building without windows or electricity.
Others moved into an abandoned dormitory that was "equally grim". Some of those people were then evicted a second time in July 2014 by the Deputy Mayor and relocated into repurposed shipping containers beyond city limits.
The container "housing" units were too small for families to live in together and did not offer adequate access to basic facilities. The rest of the families were never housed by the local authorities at all.
Local authorities then attempted to evict the Romani residents from this container "housing", but the ERRC sought a preliminary injunction from the European Court of Human Rights, which halted that eviction order in March 2016, after which the original eviction from Agricola Street was ruled discriminatory and illegal on 1 June 2016. Authorities in Eforie failed to implement that judgment of their own accord and are now ordered to do so by this recent ruling.
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