Ms. L. R. et al v Slovakia. Cited as: Communication No.31/2003, CERD / C / 66 / D / 31 / 2003
Communication seeking to assert right to equality before the law in the enjoyment of the right to housing of Roma (Article 5(e)(iii), International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination); Retrogressive measure.
The case concerned a resolution adopted by the Dobšiná municipal council, under pressure from right‑wing anti‑Roma groups, to cancel a previous resolution in which the council had approved a plan to construct low‑cost social housing for Roma inhabitants living in very poor conditions. The petitioners contended, amongst other things, that the State party had failed to safeguard their right to adequate housing, thereby violating Article 5(e)(iii) of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The Committee ruled that, taken together, the council resolutions in question – which consisted of an important practical and policy step towards realisation of the right to adequate housing, followed by its revocation and replacement with a weaker measure – amounted to an impairment of the recognition, or exercise on an equal basis, of the human right to housing. This right is protected by Article 5(e) (iii) of ICERD and Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Committee also found that the State Party was in breach of its obligation to guarantee the right of everyone to equality before the law in the enjoyment of the right to housing, contrary to Article 5(e) (iii) of ICERD. The Committee ruled that Slovakia should, amongst other things, take measures to ensure that the petitioners be restored to the position that they were in upon adoption of the initial resolution by the municipal council [casenote taken from COHRE ‘leading cases document'].
Keywords: Ms. L. R. et al v Slovakia. Cited as: Communication No.31/2003, CERD / C / 66 / D / 31 / 2003, Housing, Right
The council cancelled both resolutions and adopted a one-line Resolution, simply stating that it “takes into account the Opinion of the Committee […] and cancels [the above] resolutions”. This new Resolution fails to take into account the recommendation of the Slovakian Government issued in line with the Opinion of the Committee to place them in the same position as they were prior to the second resolution. The Municipality so far has no plan to build low cost housing and claims that they not are not obliged to approve or design a plan for such housing. The criminal prosecution initiated against the five member ‘petition committee' [who produced a petition signed by inhabitants of Dobšiná which convinced the council to cancel the initial resolution] has not yet resulted in a formal indictment being filed.
Andi Dubroshi, European Roma Rights Center H-1386 Budapest 62 PO Box 906/93 Hungary www.errc.org email: firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com Columbus Igboanus League of Human Rights Advocates Zabotova 2, 811 04 Bratislava Slovakia Tel/fax: 421 2-524 94 720 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: http://www.lhra-icpr.org email: email@example.com
This case highlights the major role that local authorities have to play in remedying the situation of vulnerable groups such as Roma. It demonstrates that action on the part of central government may be insufficient to ensure state compliance with the Committee's findings where the municipal authority refused to take the necessary steps.