Strasbourg Court Stops Demolition of Roma Homes in Bulgaria

The court posed two questions for Bulgarian authorities to consider and urged the government to stop the demolitions until alternative housing is secured.

In July, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) warned about the planned demolition of two more Roma houses in Garmen, Bulgaria.

The European Court of Human Rights issued "urgent interim measures" over the planned demolitions and asked the Bulgarian government two questions:

  1. What measures have been taken to provide accommodation and support for the vulnerable people among those living there?
  2. Do the measures provide for a separation of children from their parents?

On September 4, the court decided not to impose the interim measures after the government informed it the eviction would be postponed until September 30 so that alternative accommodation could be found.

Interim measures are urgent measures that, according to the court’s well-established practice, apply only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm. Such measures are decided in connection with proceedings before the court without prejudging any subsequent decisions on the admissibility or merits of the case in question.

The court grants requests for an interim measure only on an exceptional basis, when the applicant would otherwise face a real risk of serious and irreversible harm, and inhuman or degrading treatment. Such interim measures were imposed in 2008 on the eve of the planned demolition of the "Batalova mill" Roma neighborhood in Sofia, because no alternative accommodation was secured for the vulnerable applicants.