ERRC Press Release: UN CERD Finds Roma Rights Violations in Slovakia


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Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 16:38:43 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: ERRC Press Release: UN CERD Finds Roma Rights Violations in Slovakia

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

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

ERRC Press Release: UN CERD Finds Roma Rights Violations in
Slovakia


ERRC Press Release: United Nations CERD Finds Slovak Anti-Romani
Municipal Ordinances Violate International Law
September 27, 2000

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD), in its recent 57th session, has found that
municipal ordinances banning Roma in two Slovak villages violated
provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all
Forms of Racial Discrimination guaranteeing freedom of movement and
residence.  The applicant, a member of a legal defense foundation in
the eastern Slovak town of Kosice, was represented by the European
Roma Rights Center (ERRC).

In 1989, members of seven Romani families who were permanent residents
in the towns of N'agov and Rokytovce in Medzilaborce County,
northeastern Slovakia, were forced from their homes when their
employer - an agricultural cooperative- ceased operations.  Two years
later, in 1991, no village in the county would allow Roma to settle
within its territory.  In 1993, temporary dwellings built by some of
the Roma were torn down, forcing them to flee.  Their return to
Medzilaborce in 1997 sparked a series of meetings by local political
leaders, culminating in the passage of resolutions on July 9
(Rokytovce) and July 16 (N'agov) expressly stating that Roma were
banned from settlement in the two municipalities. The Rokytovce
resolution states that Roma who settle in the village would be "with
the help of the village inhabitants, expelled [...]". The N'agov
municipal council resolved "not to allow the Roma citizens [...] to
enter the village of N'agov, or to settle in shelters in the district
of the village."

Legal challenges brought to the Prosecutor General and to the
Constitutional Court were unsuccessful, resulting in the filing of
applications with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination in December 1998 and with the European Court of
Human Rights in March 1999 (See:
http://errc.org/publications/letters/99/sl_mar_12_99.shtml).  After
the applications were filed with these international tribunals, the
two municipalities held extraordinary meetings in April 1999 and
revoked the resolutions, but did not acknowledge that the resolutions
were illegal or provide any form of compensation to the victims. 
During the winter months of 1999-2000, according to reports by Slovak
NGOs, a number of Roma from the municipalities concerned were camped
in extreme conditions on the bank of a river in the nearby
municipality of Cabiny. The ERRC complaint is currently pending with
the European Court of Human Rights.

In its response to the ERRC action, Slovak authorities admitted to the
CERD that the resolutions were unlawful, but argued that they had
never been enforced against anyone.  The Committee accepted the ERRC's
argument that the point and effect of the resolutions was to deter
Roma who might otherwise consider coming to those towns, and that this
deterrence in itself interfered with their rights under the
Convention. The Committee concluded that, although the wording of the
resolutions referred explicitly to Roma previously domiciled in those
municipalities, "the context in which they were adopted clearly
suggests that other Romas would have been equally prohibited from
settling, which represented a violation of $5 the Convention."

The Committee urged Slovakia to "fully and promptly eliminate"
practices restricting the freedom of movement and residence of Roma
under its jurisdiction. Copies of the decision are available from the
ERRC.

*****************

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

Telephone: (36 1) 42 82 351
Fax: (36 1) 42 82 356

*****************

SUPPORT THE ERRC!

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individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
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European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1
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