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Yougoslavia, Federal Rep.of
13.11.02
Urgent Interventions

Yougoslavia: demolition of 4 houses belonging to Roma families

Case YUG 041002.1 ESCRC
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONCERN
Follow-up to Case 041002 ESCRC

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Yugoslavia.


New Information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed, by a reliable source, that on October 21 2002, some personnel of the Industry for Machine and Tractors (IMT) Company demolished four houses of Roma families living in the Stari Aerodrome settlement located in the Beograd district of Belgrade and threatened them with eviction, leading some of them to leave the settlement. It is reported that the Roma families remaining in the settlement are still threatened with eviction by the IMT Company and the municipal authorities of Belgrade.

According to the information received, the two companies owning the land of the settlement (IMT and the trade company Gaj) asked the Roma to move out, alleging that the lot on which they lived was earmarked for the construction of industrial facilities. It is reported that in spite of promises from the Serbian and Federal authorities to attempt to delay the eviction of the Roma until some alternative housing was found for them, machines arrived on the site on October 21 and began demolishing the houses. Four homes were allegedly destroyed before the Roma managed to stop the demolition by standing in the way of the machines. According to the information received, men hired by the IMT Company continued to threaten the Roma with violence to force them to move out.

Owing to the pressure created by IMT and the failure of the courts and administrative bodies to take any action, it is reported that a large number of Roma moved away. Some of the families allegedly fled in refugee camps while others went to another Roma illegal settlement, so that today 64 local Roma families and 10 displaced Roma families are still living in the settlement. According to the information received, representatives of the two firms are continuously asking the Roma to leave even though no alternative accommodation has been found for them.

Following these events, it is reported that the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint against the persons responsible for attempting the eviction of the Roma families from their homes, charging them with arbitrary action, coercion and unlawful detention. Moreover, on October 22, the HLC allegedly sued the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Serbia, the City of Belgrade, the municipal authorities of Novi Beograd, and the IMT and Gaj companies, demanding for the interdiction of the eviction of the Roma families and for a perpetuate and adequate space of living for them. According to the information received, this demand was rejected on October 25 2002. As a result, it is reported that the HLC lodged a complaint on November 11 and is to appear before the Fourth municipal court in Belgrade on this matter on December 17 2002.

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, up to September 2002, 124 Roma families (a total of 717 people) have been living in the settlement, along with 4 Serb families. 64 domestic families had allegedly been living in the settlement for more than 10 years and were joined three years ago by 60 Roma families displaced from Kosovo.

The events occurred after several attempts by both the Roma and the NGOs acting on their behalf to address the municipal and city authorities with requests for the allocation of alternative land on which the Roma could build homes for themselves. It is reported that the authorities demonstrated no understanding of the problem. Whereas numerous meetings were held with representatives of the State (Federal Ministry of Minorities, City Hall) and international organizations in Serbia (UNHCR, UNHCHR), no concrete plan could be settled yet. Indeed, if the 60 Roma families displaced from Kosovo were offered an accommodation in collective centres throughout Serbia, there is still no solution for the 64 domestic families.

According to the information received, after a protest held on September 2 outside the Serbian Presidency building by the Roma and NGOs supporting their action, Minister Rasim Ljaljic, Roma representatives and the director of IMT (the Company that owns the land were the settlement is located) had reached the agreement to stop eviction until the 5th of October.

Despite this agreement, it is reported that 37 families had to withdraw from one part of the settlement to another or go to other places. Indeed, constructors hired by the IMT encircled with wire the part of the settlement where they lived and security guards with dogs were posted around the homes, the Roma being allowed to enter their homes only to take their belongings. Under such pressure, the 37 Roma families moved to the part of the settlement that remained unfenced. The remaining families are allegedly living in the constant fear of being evicted in the same way.

According to the information received, another public protest was held on October 15 against the behaviour of the companies and the failure of the municipal and city authorities to secure alternative housing for them.

It is reported that the Roma families are living in deplorable conditions, in shelters made of soft material, without proper hygiene and infrastructure. In this respect, in an effort to force the Roma out, IMT cut the water and electricity supply to a part of the settlement.


Action requested

Please write to Yugoslavian authorities urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the Roma families;

ii. guarantee an immediate investigation into these circumstances in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iii. take all necessary measures to guarantee the right to adequate housing of the Roma families which includes the authorities’ obligation to ensure that adequate alternative housing is provided;

iv. guarantee respect for the economic, social and cultural rights throughout the country and in particular the right to adequate housing;

v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


Please write to the IMT and Gaj Companies, urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to ensure that their activities do not lead to violations of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, as guaranteed by international human rights instruments.


Addresses

. His Excellency Vojislav Kostunica, President of The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Predsednik SRJ, Bulevar Mihaila Pupina 2, 11070 Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Fax: (+ 011 381) 11 636 775 /(+ 011 381) 11 636 682) / (+ 011 381) 11 636 167, E-mail: VojislavKostunica@gov.yu
. His Excellency, Prime Minister, Predsednik Savezne Vlade, Bulevar Mihaila Pupina 2, 11070 Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Fax: (+ 011-381) 11 636 775 or (011-381) 11 659 682
. His Excellency, Minister of Justice, Ministar pravde, Republicko Ministarstvo za pravosudje i optu upravu, Namanjina 26, 11000 Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Fax: (011-381) 11 361 659
. Minister of Foreign Affairs Fax: + 38 111 681 572

. IMT-FABRIKA OLDIVAKA I MODELA,
11070 Novi Beograd,
ul. Omladinskih Brigada 102
Yugoslavia

. GAJ HOLDING-PROMET« preduzece za trgovinu i usluge DO,
11080 Zemun,
ul. Cara Dusana 266
Yugoslavia

. GAJ« preduzece za proizvodnju,trgovinu,export-import,DOO,
11070 Novi Beograd,
ul. Jurija Gagarina 90
Yugoslavia

Please also write to the embassies of Yugoslavia in your respective country.

Geneva, November 13th 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply
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