Demolition of Roma Houses – a right to housing

2010 / 09 / 03 Tags:

Illegal constructions must be dealt with. Nevertheless, this right (and an obligation) must be implemented strictly in accordance with the provisions and requirements laid down in the law and the requirements of constitutional justice, proportionality and other principles of law. This obligation is binding on all state and municipal institutions with no exceptions. Derogation from these provisions violates the law, and the illegal acts of the institutions do not  in any way entitle them to any benefit or any other inadequate or unreasonable rights or immunities.”

– Supreme Administrative Court in the Roma housing case

Proceedings initiated: 2006

Proceedings closed: 2010

Case in brief: Vilnius city municipality demolished applicant’s house located in the Roma-settled neighbourghood

Outcome of the case: demolition of the applicant’s house was unlawful, she was awarded damages

Facts of the case:

On 2-3 December 2004, Vilnius Municipality demolished six houses in a Roma-inhabited settlement situated in Vilnius. Mrs Anastazija Ragauskienė’s – a 63-years-old woman – house was among the demolished houses as well. The Municipality justified its as a “war” with drugs trafficking and unauthorized constructions. However, Mrs Ragauskienė’s house was built back in 1979 and was neither under construction or repair, nor a newly built house, therefore it could not have been treated as an unauthorized construction house.

Legal proceedings:

In August 2006, A. Ragauskienė, represented by Human Rights Monitoring Institute, appealed to Vilnius Prosecutor’s Office with a request for the recognition of a victim status and a civil applicant status in a criminal case and, also, presented a civil claim for the pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

In July 2009 Vilnius Administrative Court satisfied the complaint of Roma community partially: Vilnius Municipality was ordered to compensate a part of non-pecuniary damage.

On 23 September 2010, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania partially upheld applicant’s appeal by increasing the compensation. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania stated that Vilnius Municipality carried out illegal activities and was responsible for the demolition of houses. The Court pointed our that the Municipality failed to provide any evidence indicating a serious and real threat to the society that would justify demolishing the houses without a court order.