Rights group urges Serbia to halt Roma evictions

Rights group urges Serbia to halt Roma evictions

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[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday urged Serbian authorities to halt the forced evictions [report, PDF; press release] of Roma [JURIST news archive] in Belgrade and provide them with adequate housing and compensation. The AI report alleges that Roma living in these informal settlements, approximately one-third of the Belgrade Roma population, are denied access to water, sanitation and other basic services “that are vital to human rights—including education, health, social insurance and employment.” Approximately 17 percent of the Roma population in Serbia fled the 1999 war in Kosovo [CBD backgrounder], and the report states that these people have no choice but to live in informal settlements. The report further contends that a majority of the evictions result from projects funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) [official websites]. AI alleges that, as a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) [text], Serbia is in violation of its obligation to protect and provide adequate housing:

Amnesty International considers that the Serbian government has failed to comply with its obligations under international and regional human rights treaties to prohibit, prevent and end forced evictions. These forced evictions have primarily affected Roma communities living in informal settlements, one of the most marginalized communities in Serbia. … Some forcibly evicted Roma have not been offered any alternative housing, while others have been provided with inadequate housing, which fails to meet international standards.

AI concluded the report with recommendations for the Serbian government as well as the EBRD and the EIB. Friday marks the International Day of the Roma

The Roma have faced discrimination [JURIST comment] throughout Europe. In March, AI released a similar report alleging rights violations against Roma in Slovenia [JURIST report]. In November, rights groups Open Society Justice Initiative, European Roma Rights Centre and Greek Helsinki Monitor [advocacy websites] issued a complaint [text, PDF] alleging that the Czech government had failed to comply [JURIST report] with a European Court of Human Rights [official website] decision [JURIST report] which determined that the Czech Republic government was discriminating against Roma children. In October, the League of Human Rights [advocacy website, in French] accused the French government of improperly collecting DNA samples [JURIST report] from Roma that had not been either arrested or charged with a crime. In September, AI urged EU members to stop forcibly deporting [JURIST report] Roma migrants to Kosovo. In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [official website] released a report [text; JURIST report] “express[ing] concern over the difficult situation members of the Roma community were facing with regard to their economic, social and cultural rights” in EU countries.