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

3 August 2010

Serbian Roma families facing forced eviction

Serbian Roma families facing forced eviction

Amnesty International has urged the Belgrade authorities to halt plans to destroy a Roma settlement amid fears that an eviction could be imminent.

At least 70 families living in an informal settlement in the Vidikovac area of the Serbian capital, many of whom fled there after being forcibly evicted from other sites, could be left homeless again if the demolition goes ahead.

"The authorities have yet to find a long-term solution for Roma who, after seeing their homes repeatedly destroyed, live in constant fear of being evicted at any time without warning," said Sian Jones, Amnesty International's expert on Serbia.

Under international law, evictions can only be carried out as a last resort, once all other alternatives have been exhausted.

The Belgrade authorities have not offered the families any alternative accommodation or compensation. They have failed to consult the community, instead issuing them with two eviction notices in April and mid-June, the latter threatening the settlement with eviction from early July.

"The city authorities have no respect for the Roma people's dignity and human rights, we have been suffering discrimination in this society for far too long," a Roma activist, who wants to remain anonymous due to fear of eviction, told Amnesty International after her visit to Vidikovac on 30 July.

"The youngest of the Vidikovac residents are the most vulnerable to forced evictions. We are talking about kids with no chance to live normally. They can't learn like other children, their health is at risk."

Thirty-five of the families at risk of eviction joined the Vidikovac settlement in April 2010, when their homes on the other side of the street were destroyed by the Belgrade authorities. They were offered no alternative accommodation, assistance or compensation.

Another 20 families arrived at site after being evicted from a nearby area without prior notice, leaving them unable to rescue anything but the few belongings they could carry. Promises of food and assistance from the authorities failed to materialize.

"This vicious circle of forced evictions can only be broken through the development of a sustainable resettlement plan, which ensures the right to adequate housing for all affected communities," said Sian Jones.

Many of the Roma families living in Vidikovac were forcibly returned to Serbia from several EU states between 2006 and 2008.

Many had left Southern Serbia in the 1990s in search for work and, after failing to find adequate housing or employment when returned to their home towns, joined informal Roma settlements across Belgrade.

The Belgrade authorities have reportedly said the city's settlements will be removed because they lack proper sanitation. However, they have not specified where families living on the site can be relocated or how their human rights will be protected when their homes are demolished.

"The authorities act as if it is our fault that we live in the settlements, as if it is our choice. What other choice have we got? If you are Roma you haven't got many choices," the Roma activist said.

Amnesty International's Demand Dignity campaign aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. The campaign will mobilise people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights. For more information visit the Demand Dignity pages

Read More

Serbia must end forced evictions of Roma (Report, 10 June 2010)
Belgrade authorities urged to halt forced eviction of 300 Roma families (News, 23 April 2010)


Demand Dignity 
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 
Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants 
Roma Rights 




Europe And Central Asia 


Demand Dignity 

@amnestyonline on twitter


11 July 2014

Refugees in Nairobi are appealing against a controversial ruling that would force thousands of Somalis from their homes to live in squalid overcrowded camps in north Kenya.

Read more »
19 June 2014

Chile’s commitment to decriminalize abortion in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape, the woman’s life is in danger and when the foetus is not viable is a positive... Read more »

10 July 2014

The sentencing of five media workers in Myanmar each to 10 years’ imprisonment with hard labour for “disclosing state secrets” makes today a dark day for freedom of expression... Read more »

11 July 2014

Amnesty International has gathered graphic and compelling evidence of savage beatings and other torture meted out against activists, protesters and journalists in eastern... Read more »

14 July 2014

A new briefing sheds light on a growing pattern of sectarian killings and abductions by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham since the group seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-... Read more »