ERRC Letter to Romanian Mayor


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From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 12:34:20 +0300 (EEST)
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Subject: ERRC Letter to Romanian Mayor

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>

ERRC Letter to Romanian Mayor


On May 31, 2001, the European Roma Rights Center, an international
public interest law organisation which monitors the human rights
situation of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights
abuse, sent a letter to Mr Dorin Florea, the Mayor of Tirgu Mures,
Romania, to express concern about reported harassment and attempted
ghettoisation of members of the Romani population of Tirgu Mures.

The ERRC has received information that on May 7, 2001, an order was
issued by the mayor's office to the public guardians  civilians
deputised by the mayor to conduct rudimentary police duties - to take
all beggars into custody. Approximately forty Roma were reportedly
detained the same day, taken to a castle in Tirgu Mures and held there
for identification purposes. Those who were not resident in the town
were expelled from the city. On May 8, 2001, the action was repeated
and a similar number were reported to have been detained; of the
seventy to eighty people stopped over the two days, reportedly only
two or three were non-Roma. The reported justification for this action
was to discourage beggars from coming to Tirgu Mures. However, there
is no indication that those who were detained were begging.

In a second serious incident which would appear to be part of a series
of anti-Romani moves by municipal authorities in Tirgu Mures, it was
reported in the newspaper 24 ore muresene on May 10, 2001, that
municipal authorities had issued an order to evict the Romani
residents of Calarasilor Street. The reported official reason is that
the street was infested with rats. Authorities have reportedly
threatened the Roma of Calarasilor Street that the eviction order may
be implemented during the night. As of May 28, 2001, the eviction had
not been carried out. The removal of the Romani families from
Calarasilor street would be particularly unfortunate, as it is the
last remaining place in Tirgu Mures where Romani residents live
alongside non-Romani, in non-segregated housing, in any significant
numbers.

In its May 31 letter, the ERRC reminded Mayor Florea of his duties
under international law to carry out his responsibilities in
accordance with the law and without discrimination as to race. In this
regard, the ERRC urged Mayor Florea not to authorise any further
attempts at rounding up "beggars". Furthermore, the ERRC submitted
that Mayor Florea should officially and publicly remove the threat of
eviction from the Romani residents of Calarasilor Street. Further
information on the situation of Roma in Romania is available on the
Internet at: http://errc.org/publications/indices/romania.shtml. The
text of the ERRC letter follows:

Honourable Mr Florea,

The European Roma Rights Center, an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse, is concerned
about the reported harassment and attempted ghettoisation of members
of the Romani population in Tirgu Mures.

The ERRC has received information that on May 7, 2001, an order was
issued from your office to the public guardians  civilians deputised
by the mayor to conduct rudimentary police duties - to take all
beggars into custody. Approximately forty Roma were reportedly
detained the same day, taken to a castle in Tirgu Mures and held there
for identification purposes. Those who were not resident in the town
were expelled from the city On May 8, 2001, the action was repeated
and a similar number were reported to have been detained; of the
seventy to eighty people stopped over the two days, reportedly only
two or three were non-Roma. The reported justification for this action
was to discourage beggars from coming to Tirgu Mures. However, there
is no indication that those who were detained were begging.

In a second serious incident which would appear to be part of a series
of anti-Romani moves by municipal authorities in Tirgu Mures, it was
reported in the newspaper 24 ore muresene on May 10, 2001, that your
office had issued an order to evict the Romani residents of
Calarasilor Street. The reported official reason is that the street
was infested with rats. Authorities have reportedly threatened the
Roma of Calarasilor Street that the eviction order may be implemented
during the night. As of May 28, 2001, the eviction had not been
carried out. The removal of the Romani families from Calarasilor
street would be particularly unfortunate, as it is the last remaining
place in Tirgu Mures where Romani residents live alongside non-Romani,
in non-segregated housing, in any significant numbers.

Romania is a signatory to a number of international human rights
treaties, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the European Convention on Human
Rights (ECHR). The detention of groups of people and their forced
expulsion represents, inter alia, a breach of the right to liberty and
security of person as protected by Article 9 of the ICCPR and Article
5 of the ECHR, as well as an unwarranted restriction on the right to
freedom of movement under Article 12 of the ICCPR. Moreover, the
evident disparate impact on Roma of the detention and expulsion action
engages Romania's responsibility under the ICERD, notably Articles
5(b) and 5(d)(i), which commit parties to guaranteeing, without
distinction as to race, the right to security of person and the right
to freedom of movement respectively.

Concerning the threatened eviction of Roma living in Calarasilor
street, Article 8(2) of the ECHR states that all interferences with
the exercise of the right to respect for one's home and family life
must be "in accordance with the law" and be "necessary in a democratic
society". We submit that the proposed evictions of Romani families
from homes they lawfully occupy would arguably constitute a violation
of Romania's international legal commitments in this regard. Such
attempts to rid an area of a town of residents on the basis of their
ethnicity would also constitute a breach of Article 14 in conjunction
with Article 8 of the ECHR, which protect the right to respect for
one's home and family life without discrimination on any grounds, and
Article 5(e)(iii) of ICERD, guaranteeing the right to housing without
discrimination on the grounds of race.

Honourable Mr Florea, we respectfully remind you of your duties under
international law to carry out the responsibilities of your office in
accordance with the law and without discrimination as to race, and in
this regard we urge you not to authorise any further attempts at
rounding up "beggars". Furthermore, we submit that you should
officially and publicly remove the threat of eviction from the Romani
residents of Calarasilor Street.

Sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director

Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:

Mr Dorin Florea
Mayor of Tirgu 
Mures
4300 Tirgu Mures
P-ta Victoriei nr. 3
Romania
Fax: (40 65) 166 963

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest
law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://errc.org.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

_____________________________________________

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