Non-governmental organization Praxis announces that the Commissioner for Protection of Equality has determined that the Belgrade City Administration had discriminated against the Roma living in container settlements formed after forced evictions of informal Roma settlements. At the same time, the Commissioner has made a recommendation to the City Administration to amend the discriminatory provisions of the contract on the use of mobile housing units and house rules obliging for the Roma in container settlements.
To remind, Praxis filed a complaint in the name of the Coalition against Discrimination to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality for the fact that a legal regime established in container settlements, in which the City Administration places Roma after being evicted from some informal settlements, does not apply to any other population groups. Namely, the City Administration has stipulated that if the Roma residing in container settlements “do not adopt rules of good manners towards the representatives of the institutions of the City of Belgrade”, and “do not show an interest in the efforts of the City to socialize the individuals and their families”, or if they “have guests in the containers”, they might be again forcibly evicted from the accommodation provided to them. Based on these discriminatory provisions, the City Administration has evicted 11 families (44 persons).
It is undisputed that the City Administration had results in the increase of the number of Roma children from container settlements who attend the school, the number of Roma who exercise the right to health care and social protection. Also, it is beyond question that the integration of Roma cannot be conducted by threats of forced evictions only for the residents of container settlements and not for any other population group in Serbia. As for the behaviour sanctioned by the eviction from container settlements, either the legal order of the Republic of Serbia has anticipated penalty provisions, which are significantly milder than City provisions, or it failed to anticipate them at all.
According to the General Comments of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, one of the aspects of the right to adequate housing is legal security of tenure. Therefore, we consider that Commissioner for Protection of Equality’s determination of discriminatory obligations imposed upon the Roma in container settlements, based on which they can be evicted, clearly points that evictions of informal Roma settlements are not conducted in accordance with international human rights standards.
The Commissioner for Protection of Equality has determined that provisions of the contract on the use of mobile housing units, house rules and warnings along with the house rules represent the acts of discrimination against Roma and therefore the City Administration needs to change discriminatory provisions within 30 days upon the reception of the recommendation.
We expect that the City Administration will act according to the opinion and recommendation of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and afterwards apologize and compensate the damage to all families evicted from container settlements.
Once again, we call on the Serbian authorities to immediately cease the practice of forced evictions of informal Roma settlements and establish the legal framework in order to regulate the evictions in compliance with international contracts binding on the Republic of Serbia.
Download (only in Serbian): Complaint to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality
Download (only in Serbian): Amendment to the Complaint to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality
Download (only in Serbian): Opinion of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality on Discrimination
Download (only in Serbian): Contract on the Use of Mobile Housing Units
Download (only in Serbian): Warning