“I also wanted to inform you that the Mayor of Vuzrajdane sub-district of Sofia (Dobri Jelyazkov case) just secured alternative municipal housing for the Roma living there. They now have beautiful apartments as municipality’s tenants. Please accept our and community members’ warm thanks for everything you did for them!
Equal Opportunities Initiative Association team”
Bulgaria: Preventing the Forced Eviction of a Roma Community
Working with its Bulgarian partner, Equal Opportunities Association, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) launched a case before the Human Rights Committee seeking the first ever injunction to prevent a forced eviction under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This case involves a Roma community in Sofia that has existed for over seventy years and faced imminent forced eviction in July 2011 to make way for so-called development. The impoverished community was not consulted and was not provided alternative housing.
This case was built on a foundation of jurisprudence created through strategic litigation over the previous six years, beginning with a Shadow Report on Kenya in 2005 that resulted for the first time in forced evictions being considered a violation of the ICCPR and a Shadow Report on Israel in 2010 that reaffirmed and strengthened those Concluding Observations.
A copy of the initial Individual Complaint can be found HERE.
A copy of the Response to the Government of Bulgaria can be found HERE.
Confirmation of the Human Rights Committee’s intervention can be found HERE.
See Press Release HERE.
In an attempt to forcibly evict the Dobri Jeliazkov community, on 29 April 2012 the Municipality of Sofia had the water company, Sofiyska voda, cut off the water supply to the Dobri Jeliazkov community. The community now has no access to running water. The GI-ESCR urgently notified the Human Rights Committee as well as the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to water and sanitation, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, and the Independent Expert on Minority Issues requesting that they intervene with the Republic of Bulgaria and urge it to abide by its obligations to protect and to ensure the human rights of the Dobri Jeliazkov community, including by directing the relevant authorities, including the Municipality of Sofia and the water company, Sofiyska voda, immediately to reconnect access to water for the Dobri Jeliazkov community.
See the update to the Human Rights Committee HERE.
See the Urgent Action to Special Procedures HERE.
On 9 May 2012 the Human Rights Committee intervened with the Government of Bulgaria and reminded it “not to evict Ms. Liliana Naidenova et a.l., and not to demolish their dwellings, while their case is under consideration by the Committee.” The Committee also stated that “While Ms. Liliana Naidenova et al. have not been forcibly evicted, cutting off the water supply to the Dobri Jeliazkov community could be considered an indirect means of achieving eviction.” The Committee consequently called upon the Government of Bulgaria to ensure that the water supply be re-established to the Dobri Jeliazkov community.
Confirmation of the Human Rights Committee’s intervention related to cut off of water supply can be found HERE.
The response of the Government of Bulgaria can be found HERE.
The GI-ESCR and EOA response to the Government of Bulgaria can be found HERE.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE DECISION ON THE MERITS:
On 12 November 2012, the Human Rights Committee issued its final decision on the merits. Providing the Dobri Jeliazkov community the remedy they sought, the Committee issued a permanent injunction against eviction until alternative adequate housing was provided to the community. The Committee also stated that this decision applied to similar situations, thereby providing broader systemic impact across Bulgaria.
Read the full decision HERE.