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Bulgaria: Ineffectiveness of legal instruments to solve Roma housing problems

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  • office@greekhelsinki.gr
    Ineffectiveness of legal instruments to solve Roma housing problems Posted by: Roma Virtual Network
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25 11:20 PM
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      Ineffectiveness of legal instruments to solve Roma housing problems


      Posted by: "Roma Virtual Network" romale@...   valery_novoselsky


      Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:42 am (PST)

      Received from Romani Baht Foundation <baht2000@...>
      Dear Colleagues,
      In connection with the open letter which was publicly addressed by COHRE and ERRC to Bulgarian State and local institutions as well as to UN and European Commission representatives with regard to forcible evictions of Roma in Sofia, Romani Baht Foundation would like to express its disagreement with the approach the two organizations are taking that completely lacks efforts for coordination and consultation with Roma experts and organisations working in the field of solving Roma housing problems.
      The particular case of Dobri Zhelyazkov Str. that are referred to in the letter has been subject to wide consultations with Roma political leaders, Roma Public Council acting as a consultative body with Sofia Municipality, Roma NGOs and experts. At a meeting, organized by the Mayor of Sofia with participants from the Roma Public Council, Roma NGOs and Roma people living in houses on Dobri Zhelyazkov Str. as well as in Batalova vodenitza and Zaychar Str. /all three areas are located along the Konstantin Velichkov blvd. and people are threatened with forcible evictions/, an agreement has been reached both for the urgent measures that need to be taken and the long-term solution of the problem. The municipality suggested the following: those people who are legal owners to be compensated according to the law, and the rest to be accommodated in special containers that will be adjusted for living on municipal land. At the same time the municipality will allocate land (500 square meters for 500 leva per family) for those accommodated in the containers and they will be able to start building their own houses. The participants in the meeting accepted the proposed measures.
      The actions of the COHRE and the ERRC that are currently promoting the use of legal instruments run contrary to the decisions already taken by the Roma Public Council and only create problems between the Roma community and the Roma leaders who have already taken the political responsibility for solving the problem. Moreover, filing court cases and appealing court decisions does not solve the major policy issues that include amendments to the laws and agreeing on practical measures.
      We would like to appeal to the two organisations - COHRE and ERRC - to urgently engage in parterships and consultations with the Sofia Roma Public Council and the Roma NGOs in order to co-ordinate the efforts. The Romani Baht Foundation suggests that all active organisations and institutions in the field organize a National Conference on Roma Housing Issues that will bring together representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development, the local authorities, including the chief architects of the municipal districts, as well as Roma NGOs and Roma community representatives in order to agree on the technical implementation of the National Strategy for Roma Housing on the local level, propose amendments to the law and discuss practical solutions for the Roma settlements threatened with forcible evictions.

      Romani Baht Foundation
      Human Rights Project
      Kham Foundation
      Confederation of the Roma in Europe
      Diversity Foundation

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