The European Court of Human Rights is hearing a case against Serbia brought by campaigners seeking to stop forced evictions of Roma families who fled the Kosovo war in 1999.
Danilo Curcic of the Belgrade-based Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM, which brought the case to the Strasbourg-based court, said on Thursday that he wanted the rights body to call a halt to the evictions of around 30 Roma families from an informal settlement in Belgrade.
“We have asked the court… to forbid the state to separate families [mothers with children from fathers]and to forbid the demolishing of buildings and evictions until alternative accommodation is found,” Curcic told BIRN.
Before turning to the Strasbourg court, YUCOM said it contacted all the relevant institutions in Serbia to ask them to stop the eviction of around 130 people, of whom 68 are children, from the Belgrade neighbourhood of Grmec, but received no answer.
“The problem is that there is not a single offer of any kind of accommodation [for the families],” Curcic said.
“We heard unofficially that there are plans to build a new railway station at that location [Grmec], which will be part of the Belgrade Waterfront [city gentrification]project,” he added.
BIRN contacted the Belgrade city authorities and Serbia’s State Attorney’s Office, which represents Serbia at the Strasbourg court, but received no answer.
After the Strasbourg court received the motion from YUCOM, it contacted the Serbian authorities asking for answers to questions about the eviction case, but the state failed to answer by the Wednesday deadline.
Any measures imposed on Serbia by the Strasbourg court will be binding.
According to the Serbian Commission for Refugees, 250,000 people fled Kosovo following the war in 1999, and around 22,500 of them were Roma. Two decades after the war, the issue of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) remains unresolved.
Some 1,000 IDPs and refugees still live in temporary accommodation in Serbia. But the vast majority of the Roma who came from Kosovo have been living in informal settlements.
Source: Balkan Insight