Roma families face forced eviction while city earmarks EU funds for social inclusion
(Brussels, 10 August 2012) Authorities in the Czech city of Ostrava are planning to evict some 40 Roma families who rent homes in the Přednádraží district. Ostrava’s construction office gave tenants just 24 hours to vacate the premises or face eviction without any meaningful consultation.
“It’s ironic for this to happen in a town which plans to use EU structural funds for 'social inclusion'”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “Only in February they launched a programme to 'integrate socially excluded inhabitants' which will target Roma people. This is totally at odds with forcibly evicting Roma families. The Commission should keep an eye on what’s happening in Ostrava, and ensure EU funds aren’t used to further marginalise and discriminate against Roma people.”
“Evictions should only occur as a last resort, and only once all feasible alternatives have been explored. They shouldn’t leave anyone homeless or vulnerable to human rights violations. Adequate alternative homes should be provided to anyone affected”, said Beger.
The Roma families in Přednádraží are currently being forced to accept whatever the city offers, or risk homelessness. Homes which have been offered to 14 families are substandard, cramped, and have shared cooking and washing facilities. Tenants may also be unable to afford the high rents. Several families who did not want to move signed contracts as there was no feasible alternative to being left homeless. The remaining 30 families have yet to be offered any specific alternative housing.
On 3 August the construction office gave the families 24 hours to leave or face eviction. Officials justified the eviction saying the building is unfit for human habitation, as its structure is unsafe, the electricity supply faulty and its sanitation inadequate. However, the local authorities and the building’s owner are obliged to maintain the sanitation and prevent sewage infiltrating the houses.
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