Demolition of Roma Homes OK By Law?
The government plenipotentiary for Roma Affairs, Miroslav Pollak, has spoken out against the clearance of two illegal Roma shanty homes in the town of Vrutky last week, saying a legal analysis will be prepared to examine the legality of the step.
The local council decided to demolish the homes, which were located illegally on the town’s land, but Pollak, while not advocating such illegal housing, pointed again to how the law protects dwellings in any case, and how only a court can rule to have it removed. Mayor of Vrutky Miroslav Mazur justified the move with the argument that there is no definition of a “dwelling” in Slovak law.
With the argument that the shanty homes were not in fact dwellings, the town of Vrutky is not obliged to provide the evicted inhabitants with alternative accommodation. Other nearby residents are reported to be relieved that their ‘non-conforming’ neighbours have been cleared off the land.
The case will surely be closely watched by Marian Kotleba, head of the extreme People’s Party-Our Slovakia (LS-NS) who plans to get rid of land-squatting Roma families on 800 m2 land he acquired as a donation in Krasnohorske Podhradie. The settlers said they were willing to sit round the table with the new owner and discuss the option of buying the land off him, but earlier the original owner refused to sell the land to them, donating it instead to Kotleba.
Over the past year in Slovakia there have been several cases of Roma settlements being razed to the ground by local authorities as well, something that Amnesty International drew attention to recently. In Kosice 80 Roma were moved into tents after they had their homes crushed in May of last year, then in June the town of Ziar nad Hronom did the same, moving the unsettled dwellers into porta-cabins. A similar fate currently hangs over around 90 families in Plavecky Stvrtok near Bratislava.