On 17 December 2010, the authorities of Cluj-Napoca in north-western Romania, forcibly evicted approximately 350 Roma people, including families with children, from Coastei Street at the centre of the city. No consultation of the affected community on the eviction plan was conducted in compliance with international standards, i.e. in an adequate and participatory way. No feasible alternatives to the eviction had been explored. The community was not given the opportunity to challenge the eviction decision; they were given no opportunity to engage with the decision-making process. No written, detailed notification was given to all involved evictees sufficiently in advance. They were only informed orally, two days before the eviction took place that they had to leave their homes by 17 December, as on this date all improvised barracks and shacks would be demolished.
Forty families were re-housed in new housing units in the outskirts of the city in the Pata Rat area, which is located close to the city’s garbage dump and a former dump for chemical waste. The housing provided is inadequate; each housing unit consists of four rooms occupied by different families.“We are over 20 people in the module, there are two uncovered toilets and if we have to go, we go with our neighbours", said George, one of the Roma relocated to the new houses. His wife, Alina, felt that sharing one four-room module – and one bathroom – with three other families created quite a great level of discomfort and insecurity: “There is no privacy. When we go to the toilet we go two at once, one of us keeps an eye on the door while the other is using the toilet.” No hot water or gas connection is provided, although water, sewage and electricity are supplied.
The remaining families were not provided with alternative housing. Allegedly they were allowed to build self-improvised barracks in the area next to the new buildings, while no alternative at all was offered to those refusing to move. The closest bus stop is approximately 3 km away. Access to public transport, school, employment and health services appears to be more difficult.
The housing units are placed on the hill above the long-standing Romani settlement of Pata Rat, which is home to approximately 1,000 Roma living in inadequate conditions. Many of them make a living by collecting copper and plastic from the garbage dump and selling it for recycling. Nearby, another informal settlement, on Cantonului Street, is home to approximately 430 Roma. They also are facing the threat of being forcibly evicted from their homes.
Sign Amnesty International's petition to the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca.
I am deeply concerned about the forced eviction of 56 Romani families from Coastei Street at the centre of Cluj-Napoca in December 2010. The removal of the families from their homes without adequate consultation and adequate prior notice constitutes a forced eviction prohibited by international human rights law, which is legally binding for Romanian authorities.
I am also concerned at the fact that the evicted families were placed in inadequate housing conditions at the outskirts of the city next to a garbage dump and next to existing Romani settlements inhabited by more than a thousand Roma, thus reinforcing ethnic segregation. Finally, I would like to express my deepest dismay at the fact that some of the Romani families were rendered homeless as a result of the forced eviction in the middle of the winter, which is prohibited not only by international human rights law, but also by Romanian legislation.
The city that aspires to be the European Capital of Culture in 2020 cannot foster segregation and discrimination or blatantly violate international human rights law.
I urge you to:
-- Ensure adequate housing is provided to all families who were left homeless as a result of the December forced eviction, as a matter of urgency;
-- End all forced evictions and ensure that no further eviction takes place unless safeguards required under international human rights standards are in place;
-- Provide an effective remedy and reparations, including restitution, rehabilitation, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition to all victims of forced evictions;
-- Pay compensation for damage to, or loss of any property and possessions;
-- In close consultation with the relevant Romani communities and local civil society organizations develop housing and a wider integration plan to ensure that Romani communities in Cluj-Napoca can live a life in dignity and enjoy their human rights without discrimination.
Image: Romani families forcibly evicted from Coastei Street were moved to new housing modules constructed in the outskirts of the city providing inadequate living conditions in a potentially hazardous area © Grupul de Lucru al Organizaţiilor Civice (GLOC)