Slovak court finds Romani tenants were discriminated against during eviction and relocation
A court in eastern Slovakia has decided that the authorities committed discrimination when they evicted tenants from buildings in the center of the town of Sabinov because their treatment of the non-Romani and the Romani tenants was not the same. The Regional Court in Prešov has now closed a dispute that has lasted more than a decade with its decision.
Each of the eight plaintiffs has been awarded compensation in the amount of EUR 1 000. An NGO called Via Iuris, whose attorney represented the Romani plaintiffs in court, informed the press of the decision on 12 July.
"This decision is of precedent-setting importance and should meaningfully influence the rules for the provision of subsidies by the state, as well as arrange for the upholding of domestic and international rules on the provision of housing in such a way as to not discriminate," said attorney Kristína Babiaková of Via Iuris. The town of Sabinov began evicting the residents from housing in its center in 2006, reportedly because it wanted to reconstruct the units.
The Romani tenants, according to Via Iuris, were moved out of the developed part of the town into apartments of a lower standard that were built using a subsidy from the then-Ministry of Construction. The non-Romani tenants being evicted were afforded the opportunity to live in apartments in a different part of town by the local authority.
The discrimination suit was first heard by a District Court and the appeals venue has now upheld the first-instance decision. The appeals court has also decided that the former Ministry of Construction committed discrimination in providing its subsidy to build apartments of a lower standard.
According to the justification of the verdict, it was the responsibility of the ministry to analyze the application for the financial contribution and to make sure the state fulfilled its obligations regarding the ban on discrimination. According to previous studies, more than 400 000 Romani people live in Slovakia, which has a population of 5 million.
The country has repeatedly faced criticism from the European Commission and NGOs, for example, in connection with the discrimination of Romani children in education. Slovak courts banned the creation of separate classes in schools for Romani pupils some years ago.
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