Monday, May 31, 2010
FROM THE SOFIA ECHO
Amnesty International renews criticism of Bulgaria's treatment of Roma
Fri, May 28 2010 by The Sofia Echo staff
Amnesty International's report for 2010 continues to chastise Bulgaria for familiar breaches, citing in particular its treatment of the country's Roma and the community's discrimination in education, housing and health care.
"In September, almost 50 Romani homes were demolished and the families forcibly evicted in the town of Bourgas. The local council’s decision to demolish houses illegally built on municipal or private land left almost 200 people, who had lived in the area for several
years, without accommodation. The NGO the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee reported that police used disproportionate force during the demolitions. Despite claims by the Mayor of Burgas that the families would be provided with alternative low rent council accommodation, no alternative housing was provided; the evicted Roma were only advised to apply for municipal housing," says the report.
Amnesty also noted the Committee's criticism of an amendment to the Social Assistance Act which reduced the period in which unemployed people could obtain social assistance. "They stressed that the amendment would have a disparate and unjustified effect on Roma who had been over-represented among beneficiaries."
Bulgaria was again found in violation of the right to a public hearing within a reasonable time under the European Convention on Human Rights. "Criminal proceedings against Valentin Ivanov took more than eight years, commencing in May 1992 and ending in November 2000. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that this exceeded the 'reasonable time' requirement," notes Amnesty.
Amnesty also notes that asylum seekers continued to be detailed for excessive periods of time.
"The European Court of Justice in November ordered the immediate release of Said Kadzoev, an asylum seeker of Russian nationality and Chechen origin who would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment if forcibly returned to the Russian Federation. In a landmark ruling, the Court found that the exception to the 18-month limit on the detention of asylum-seekers, proposed by the Sofia City Administrative Court, would contravene the EU directive on standards and procedures for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. Kadzoev was detained in 2006, and had remained in custody in spite of his lawyers’ applications for less severe measures. The Court said that asylum seekers should not be detained as a punishment for not possessing valid documents or for aggressive
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