Roma rights groups and Amnesty International have welcomed a decision by Cluj-Napoca County Court which ruled the forced eviction of more than 300 Roma from the city was illegal.
In December 2010, around 350 people from 76 families, the majority Roma, were forcibly evicted from the center of the city of Cluj-Napoca.
Many of the families were re-housed in newly built housing units on the outskirts of the city, close to the city’s garbage dump and a former chemical waste dump, in a place called Pata-Rât.
The inadequate housing provided no hot water or gas while the bus stop was about 2.5 km away.
This week judges at the tribunal ruled the mayor’s decision to forcibly evict the family was illegal and ordered the city authorities to pay damages to the Roma applicants for their eviction and relocation.
The Court also ruled the city should provide applicants with adequate housing in line with the minimum standards set out in Romanian law, read a release by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).
The ERRC supported a local law firm Podaru, Buciuman and Associates, to take the case on behalf of about 200 Roma applicants, and previously helped the community to set up an association to fight for their rights.
Florin Stancu, Executive Director of the Community Association of Roma from Coastei (the street where the families were evicted from) said he was grateful the Romanian justice system based their findings on the evidence and didn’t consider political interests.
Claudia Greta, a Roma rights activist and member of the Community Association of Roma from Coastei, added: “This decision is very important as we have been continuously fighting for three years now. We finally got a favorable result and we see that justice can be fair in Romania. Despite the traumatic effect of the eviction, this judgment gives us the strength to continue advocating for our rights, which were violated in December 2010. We will keep fighting until we can return to the city, where we belong.”
The ERRC and Amnesty International are now calling on the city authorities to implement the judgment – which is not final – as a matter of urgency.
“We welcome the court’s decision that this forced eviction was illegal,” said Dezideriu Gergely, executive director of the ERRC.
Both ERRC and Amnesty International have called on all Romanian authorities to take note of the decision of the Court in relation to the illegal eviction from Coastei Street.
They appealed to authorities to cease all evictions which target Romani communities in this way, pointing to an incident in Eforie Sud last September when 101 people, including 55 children, were made homeless in severe weather conditions after their houses were demolished ostensibly due to lack of building permits.
Shaun Turton firstname.lastname@example.org