[Budapest, 12 June 2014] - The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes the judgment of the Constanţa Court of Appeal in southern Romania which found that the Tulcea municipality is liable for inadequate housing conditions it had provided to a previously evicted Romani community. The court awarded financial compensation to the plaintiffs for the moral damage they suffered. The ERRC supported the evicted Romani community in taking the case before the national courts.
On 11 October 2006 approximately 110 Romani people were evicted from a building they had occupied for approximately seven years. Some were relocated by the municipality to the abandoned buildings of a former military garrison, well outside the city, near the industrial port. Others were left homeless for more than a month in extreme weather conditions, before the municipality provided them with mobile homes placed on the former municipal garbage dump at Urzicii Street. Both locations are extremely overcrowded and lack basic sanitary facilities.
By a recent judgment, “taking into consideration the living conditions, especially the overcrowded and unhealthy environment and its effects on their health and well-being in conjunction with the extended period during which the plaintiffs had to live in such conditions and the general attitude of the authorities”, the Constanţa Court of Appeal found the municipality liable and awarded compensation “for the moral damage suffered by the plaintiffs, the unsuitable living conditions being of a nature which affects their human dignity and right to respect for their private life and housing”. This ruling presents a ground-breaking interpretation of liability under the Romanian Civil Code taken together with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
On the right to education of the children affected by the eviction, the court held that “the behaviour of the authorities, consisting in the failure to facilitate access to education for the plaintiffs by taking appropriate measures, including by providing easy access by public transportation to schools which are located a considerable distance from plaintiffs’ homes, constitutes an illegal act causing injury”.
The ERRC salutes the decision of the Court of Appeal and calls on all authorities across Romania to respect international standards on the right to adequate housing, including the provision of adequate alternative housing in case of eviction. The Chair of the Board of the ERRC, Robert Kushen said, that "This judgment sends a clear message to municipalities throughout Romania, from Eforie to Cluj-Napoca and Baia Mare, that the provision of adequate housing for evicted Roma is a right which can be secured through the courts, and its disregard has real consequences".
To secure a sustainable solution for the evicted Roma community, the ERRC has also been pursuing the case before the European Court of Human Rights.