Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

      John Warmisham calls on the authorities in Vilnius and Tirana to stop evictions of Roma

      08.02.2012, Strasbourg - With this wave of cold weather that has hit Europe, local and regional authorities have a particular responsibility to protect their citizens, especially the most vulnerable, such as Roma, and to guarantee full respect of their fundamental rights.

      As Rapporteur of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, I draw the attention of the Lithuanian and Albanian authorities to the situation of Roma families in Vilnius and Tirana and their planned or actual eviction from their informal settlements. These evictions will leave these families and children in an intolerable situation, throwing them onto the street in minus temperatures, thus putting their lives at risk.

      Such forced evictions are contrary to international human rights law, and Resolution 333 (2011) adopted by the 21st session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, recalls the importance of avoiding “forced evictions, and arrange agreed alternative accommodation of appropriate standard wherever necessary;” The situation of these families in Vilnius and Tirana is worsened by the severe weather conditions.

      I call upon the authorities concerned to mobilise efforts to find a humane and equitable outcome to this situation and, in particular, to suspend these evictions and to find alternative accommodation for these families.