The recent case of extremist Marian Kotleba getting his hands on land under a Roma settlement so he could tear down their shanty dwellings could run up against a legal problem, but that often means no problem at all.
In March, Kotleba, the head of the extreme People’s Party-Our Slovakia (LS-NS) announced his plan to get rid of land-squatting Roma families by buying or acquiring the land they had erected their shack home on and then tear them down. Having been donated around 800 m2 of land under a Roma settlement in Krasnohorske Podhradie, Kotleba looks set to go ahead with his plan.
The government plenipotentiary for Roma issues, Miroslav Pollak, has a different view of the issue, saying certain legislative requirements have to be met before any eviction can take place, even if the settlement is there illegally. Kotleba is classing the dwellings on his land as waste, though, and as he is no stranger to being arrested and charged for his ‘beliefs’, he may go ahead all the same.
Apart from the protection offered to dwellings by law, the plenipotentiary also noted that the eviction of people from their homes must firstly forego talks between all involved parties, with an effort to secure alternative housing, whereby enough notice and a court decision and other particulars would have to be in order first.
Overall, it is against the law to act in a way that will make people homeless, yet cases of Roma housing being destroyed continue to appear. In Kosice the alternative accommodation offered by the municipality that tore down their homes was tents, while in Ziar nad Hronom it was porta-cabins.
Yesterday the local council in the small town of Vrutky tore down two Roma shanty houses that were on the town’s land, but the move may have been illegal because the town did not provide them with alternative housing. Marek Hojsik from the Social Development Fund explained to daily Pravda that “The right to housing is a basic right of survival. These kinds of rights supersede the right to use one’s property”, and so the now homeless Roma families could turn to the European Court for Human Rights over the issue.