EU Watch

Breaking Its Promise, Bulgaria Pushes Ahead With Evictions & Home Demolitions

Bulgarian authorities continue to ignore the Strasbourg court regarding the evictions of Roma and other citizens from their homes in violation of European human rights law.

by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Once again, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is dealing with evictions that the Bulgarian authorities are trying to carry out in violation of Article 8 (the right to privacy and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Homes destroyed

In recent years, the ECtHR has ruled in favour of numerous Bulgarian – often Roma – complainants against the state in connection with authorities' destruction of their only home.

Previous judgments of the Court clearly state that the authorities can not destroy the only housing of citizens, even if the structure exists illegally, without providing them with alternative accommodation. The homes that Bulgaria has been destroying constitute the victims' 'homes' under the ECHR because the complainants inhabited them for many years, all the while with the knowledge of the authorities. Removing people from their homes also interferes with their right to personal and family life. Still, Bulgarian authorities continue this vicious practice.

In the present case, the ECtHR on September 12 issued a decision for temporary injunction to block the eviction of a Roma family from Plovdiv. One member of the family is just three months old. The Court also announced that the case filed on behalf of this family and five others will be prioritized because they have seven children and three of them are under a year old.

Empty promise

In April, the Bulgarian authorities promised the Court that they will not destroy the homes of the complainants until 'adequate alternative accommodations are provided'. But despite the government's promise, at the beginning of September the municipal authorities of the city of Plovdiv informed one of the complainants that his home will be destroyed without offering alternative accommodation, even though his granddaughter is just 3 months old.

After being notified, the ECtHR issued interim measures in order to protect the applicant. These measures forbid the government from destroying the home of the applicant until the whole case is considered. The Court has a clear motive to issue the injunction and hear the full case with priority: the early age of the family’s child.

Yet again, the Court has sent a clear message to Bulgarian authorities that the state does not have firm legal standing to continue such evictions.

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