News 11 Aug 14
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, has expressed concern over the planned eviction of seven Roma families in Elbasan to make way for development.
|Roma families in Tirana | Photo by Culto Cuanavale/ Flickr|
“Concerned about planned evictions of Roma in Elbasan, Albania,” Muiznieks wrote on his twitter account on Thursday.
“I call on authorities to ensure suitable and sustainable housing alternative and uphold human rights,” he added.
The houses of the seven Roma families face demolition due to make way for the expansion of the city’s soccer stadium and a road.
The stadium is undergoing reconstruction funded by the municipality and Albania’s Football Federation, and is earmarked to host the qualifying games of the national football team in the run-up to the UEFA European 2016 championship.
Although the families are entitled to compensation, they cannot claim it because, like hundreds of thousands of other families in Albania, they built their homes without permits.
Since 2007 the government has allowed for process of legalization for unauthorised constructions, but progress has been slow.
In July the municipality of Elbasan suspended the demolition of the houses after the UN Committee on Human Rights called on the government to suspend the eviction of the families until a complaint filed by their lawyers on the merits of the decision to demolish the houses and subsequent compensation claims had been heard.
The UN Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by state parties.
On Friday the municipality announced that the demolition of two houses due to the stadium expansion had been halted, while the families affected by the road expansion would be provided with a rent allowance.
However, the families’ lawyers from the ResPublica legal aid center in Tirana told BIRN that the issue of compensation for the soon to be demolished houses remained unsolved and they would proceed with their claim before the UN human rights committee.