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ECtHR notifies Poland about application of Roma tenants whose homes in Wrocław were demolished

The European Court of Human Rights has communicated to Polish Government the application submitted by sixteen Romanian nationals of Roma origin concerning the demolition of their homes located at the Paprotna Street camp, which had been ordered in July 2015 by Wrocław municipal authorities.

The Government can respond to the Court’s questions on or before 8 January 2018.

Demolition

Let us remind our readers that on 22 July 2015, Wrocław municipal authorities demolished a Roma camp at Paprotna Street in Wrocław. At the moment of demolition, the camp comprised five structures. Roma families (adults and children) had been living in the camp since 2009. Application to the ECtHR was submitted at the beginning of 2016.

The applicants did not know about the planned demolition of their homes. The camp was torn down after they left their homes in the morning of 22 July. In the consequence of the demolition, they lost an adobe and belongings. Some things (e.g. electricity generators, heaters) were unlawfully appropriated, while the remaining property – including documents and medicines – was reduced to rubble and transported together with debris to a nearby waste dump site.

The demolition left the Roma applicants homeless. After some time, the families built new homesteads at a camp located at Kamieńskiego Street, also within the Wrocław city limits. The structures erected at the new site fell short of the safety standards. The applicants had not been given any support in finding new housing and received no psychological support. There are children and persons with disabilities among the victims of the demolition.

Residents unaware of camp demolition

The Roma did not know about the planned demolition because the relevant decision of a local building inspection authority was served only on the municipality of Wrocław as the lawful owner of the land on which the camp was located. The authority decided that the Roma are not a party to the proceedings in this case. In consequence of the above, they were deprived of any opportunity to challenge the demolition decision or initiate a judicial review of the decision. What is more, the demolition decision was enforced before becoming final: the second instance body issued its decision already on 29 July, which was seven days after the actual demolition.

ECtHR communication

As the questions included in the communication sent to the Polish Government suggest, the Court will examine the case from the perspective of possible violations of the rights enshrined in the Convention’s Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment), Article 8 (right to private and family life and home), Article 14 read in conjunction with Article 8 (prohibition of discrimination) and Article 13 read in conjunction with Article 8 (right to an effective remedy), as well as Article 1 of the Additional Protocol (right to property).

The case is conducted as part of the HFHR’s “Article 32” anti-discrimination programme. The applicants are represented in the proceedings before the ECtHR by Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, HFHR’s legal expert, and Ms Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram, an attorney of Clifford Chance Janicka, Namiotkiewicz, Krużewski sp. k.

Communication in the case of Caldarar and Others v. Poland can be read here.


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