Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

25 October 2011

Serbian activists arrested for protecting evicted Roma family

Serbian activists arrested for protecting evicted Roma family

Two human rights defenders were today arrested for trying to stop the forced eviction of a Roma family in Belgrade.

The activists from the Regional Centre for Minorities were arrested for obstruction of justice after they peacefully attempted to prevent police evicting Mevljude Kurteshi and her six children from their apartment.

"These activists were merely trying to defend the human rights of the family being forcibly evicted - an unlawful and inhumane act by the Serbian authorities," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Director for Europe and Central Asia.

"Mevljude Kurteshi and her children must be given adequate alternative housing immediately."

Witnesses say the two activists were arrested after politely refusing to move from the door of Mevljude Kurteshi's basement apartment. They were released and may face charges of obstruction of justice, which could lead to a custodial sentence.

Mevljude Kurteshi was given no reason for the eviction and the authorities have not provided her with anywhere else to live.

After the eviction, her possessions were loaded onto a truck and taken to the informal Roma settlement at Belvil, where the family have no option but to move in with relatives. Evictions are also scheduled at Belvil.

Neighbours reportedly stood around jeering and applauding as she waited for a bus to take her and her children, some of them barefoot, to her new “home” at Belvil.

“Over the last month we have seen several forced evictions carried out with complete disregard for the rights of vulnerable people,” said Nicola Duckworth.

“To forcibly evict a single mother and her children without any adequate alternative housing is a complete violation of Serbia’s international obligations.”

Mevljude Kurteshi and her family were forcibly displaced from Kosovo after the 1999 war. Like other internally displaced Roma, she is unable to return home.

She was provided with the apartment in 2006 after she had been relocated from a housing estate, known as the “asbestos settlement”, which was demolished for health and safety reasons.

The eviction, which was carried out by police and the Čukarica authorities had previously been postponed on 11 October after human rights activists and local NGOs protested at the site.

Serbian authorities have failed to adopt a law prohibiting forced evictions, which would ensure that the processes and safeguards set out in relevant UN Guidelines and Principles are in place before any evictions are carried out.

According to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Issue

Roma Rights 

Country

Serbia 

Region

Europe And Central Asia 

Campaigns

Demand Dignity 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

19 December 2014

A flurry of activity by UN member states to sign and ratify the global Arms Trade Treaty before it enters into force next week is another clear sign of the overwhelming... Read more »

18 December 2014

The rights of migrants are being trampled across the globe as they face economic exploitation, discrimination and racism in a range of countries.

Read more »
22 December 2014

Pakistan's reported plans to execute 500 more people are “deeply disturbing” and would do nothing to protect civilians from the conflict with the Taliban.

Read more »
24 December 2014

Pro-Kyiv volunteer battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine in a move which will exacerbate a pending humanitarian crisis in the run up to... Read more »

23 December 2014

Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the armed group calling itself the... Read more »