Eviction of Roma from Cluj-Napoca ruled illegal by Romanian court


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 shaun@romania-insider.com


No to Romania’s Schengen entry

ImageFrench President Francois Hollande will block Romania’s bid to enter the Schengen zone on January 1, 2014, according to an unnamed source from the French Government.

Quoted by the French media, the source claimed the French President supports the position of France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who recently expressed concerns over the influx of Roma to the country.

As a consequence of this firm line, Hollande will reject Romanian’s ascension to the passport free zone, the source states.

 “An associate of the President is categorical: Romania will be refused the Schengen entry on January 1, 2014, as the conditions are not met,” The French website Europe1.fr writes.

“Most of the Roma are destined to be escorted back to their origin country.”

The statement quoted by TheEurope1.fr is in line with remarks recently made by Manuel Vells.

However this time, the comments were attributed to Francois Hollande.

“Only a minority seeks to integrate,” he is reported to have said.

Europe1.fr added that the President’s opinion goes further than concerns over a Roma influx and takes into account the difficulties faced by elected officials.

The president asks: “Whether France is destined to host all those most vulnerable?”

The statement, notes Europe1.fr, echoes the words of Michel Rocard, who back in 1990 said: “France can’t host all the misery of the world”.

Recently, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, has also expressed her concerns over Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen entry.

However, earlier in September, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Romania and Bulgaria have met the criteria for Schengen area membership and should be given a chance to enter the zone as soon as possible.

Both countries have been refused access into the Schengen area in the last few years, with several countries taking turns in opposing it.

Editorial, Video

Where the streets have no name…


The municipality of Iasi, a North East town of Romania, wants to demolish the tower of flats where few people lived there in pure misery. Most apartments have no doors and no windows, and residents are without running water, the sanitation being defective.

According to representatives of the City Hall of Iasi, the block is in an advanced state of decay.

Evacuation of residents began late last week, and the City Hall has ordered those standing there illegally to leave the apartments.

The evacuated residents said that they have no other place to live and the Iasi City Hall offered them no alternative.

“I have four kids, what do I do now? I went to the town hall several times to ask them for a shelter, but no one helped,” the said Mary N., one of the evacuated family.

Please watch the video here.



Education in Romania – A very delicated issue, poverty is among main causes

Education - A very delicated issue, a new study by UNICEF

School dropout increased to 17.5 percent in the last five years in Romania, according to a national study conducted by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor, the National Statistics Institute and the Institute of Education Sciences. However, Romanian authorities aim to lower the rate of students dropping out of school to 14.8 percent by 2014, 12.8 percent by 2017 and 11.3 percent by 2020.

Some 65,000 Romanian children aged between 7 and 10 -representing 8 percent of the total and 50,000 aged between 11 and 14 – some 5 percent of the total were outside the educational system in 2009, according to the study. Some of the most common causes were related to poverty and limited parental education. These negative phenomena are increasing in rural areas disproportionately affect the Roma community compared to the majority population.

According to the study, better training of teachers to work with children facing the risk of school abandonment, improved infrastructure and better participation from the parents are some of the measures that could be taken to improve the situation. Some of the study’s general recommendations include a better data collection on school dropout, an improved school-parents partnership and an increased attractiveness of schools, but also a rational financing of social and educational programs.

The entire All children in school by 2015. Global Initiative on children outside the educational system: national study in Romanian below.