The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM, is calling for an immediate cesation of the forced eviction of inhabitants living in the informal Roma settlement of Grmeč, in Zemun, Belgrade, a process that began last week, when a decision to demolish the homes was delivered to the inhabitants.
After more than twenty other forced evictions of Roma settlements, this practice continues. On July 7th, 2015, the inhabitants of Grmeč, an informal Roma settlement, received a decision stating that their homes were to be demolished. This document commenced their forced eviction without previous announcements, consultations or information regarding alternative accomodations.
This decision was issued by the Construction Inspectorate of the Municipality of Zemun, and states that the inhabitants of Grmeč are to demolish their own homes within a twenty four-hour period, under the threat of enforcement. There are approximately thirty Roma families living in the settlement, most of which have been displaced from Kosovo and lack basic access to fundamental rights, including healthcare and social welfare. There is a very real possibility that should the order be carried out, these families will become homeless. This threat is exacerbated by the fact that, according to domestic regulations, an appeal of the decision does not delay its directives from being carried out.
In order for a life with dignity and a number of human rights to be realized, the right to adequate housing is a key prerequisite. International human rights standards prescribe certain procedures for evictions, and prohibit evictions that result in homelessness. In the last three years, the Republic of Serbia has received numerous recommendations from UN authorities, urging the country to immediately stop the practice of forecfully evicting Roma from settlements. In addition, the country has been reminded of the need for legal reform within the sphere of Roma housing in accordance with ratified international agreements. Furthermore, reports on Serbia produced by the European Comission and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights point to gross violations of the Roma’s human rights, including housing.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM, is urging appropriate government authorities and the City of Belgrade to immediately stop the evictions, to abide by the already ratified international agreements, and to provide adequate alternative accomodations to the inhabitants of Grmeč.