In a landmark decision in the case of Liliana Naidenova et al. v. Bulgaria, the Human Rights Committee issued a permanent injunction preventing the forced eviction of the Dobri Jeliazkov community in Sofia, Bulgaria. 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. The Committee ordered the authorities not to evict the community until they have agreed upon alternative housing.
Working with its Bulgarian partner, Equal Opportunities Association Initiative, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) launched the case before the Human Rights Committee in 2011. 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 as well as addressing denial of access to water.
In 2011, the Human Rights Committee issued its first ever temporary injunction, under its Interim Measures procedure, to prevent a forced eviction. In 2012, it also used the Interim Measures procedure to order the reconnection of water supply which had been disconnected in an attempt to force the community to leave their homes.
According to Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR, “The use of Interim Measures to not only prevent forced evictions, but also to order positive measures such as the reestablishment of water supply, is a very welcomed development under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
In its final decision on the merits, the Committee also stated that this decision applied to similar situations, thereby providing broader systemic impact across Bulgaria.
Equal Opportunities Association Initiative said “We consider the decision as a great success and hope that it will prevent any further threats for eviction before securing of alternative housing for the community. ”
Community members said they can now feel secure going into the winter that they will not be forcibly evicted.
For further information, including case documents and the Committee’s decision, see HERE.
“I am a Roma from Bulgaria and a human rights master’s student at the University of Essex, UK. I read the press-release on winning the case of 2011 Roma evictions in Sofia before the Human Rights Committee and decided immediately to send you a note. Congratulations to you and your team for wining the case! I hope you will continue working on Roma issues and cooperate with organizations working on Roma rights issues. Thank you for the great efforts and work!”
– Angel Ivanov, Human Rights Lawyer, Bulgaria