Government proxy for Roma communities Miroslav Pollák said on Tuesday, June 5, that his office will carry out a legal analysis into the demolition of illegal Roma shacks in the town of Vrútky, Žilina Region, that took place last week at the behest of the local authority.

Pollák told the TASR newswire that the office certainly doesn't support Roma erecting shacks on other people's property, but "it's necessary to stress that a decision on removing a dwelling can be issued only by a court and not the local authority". The mayor of Vrútky, Miroslav Mazúr, disagreed with Pollák's statement.

"No legislation defining the term 'dwelling' exists in Slovakia. The shacks aren't dealt with by the Construction Act either, which clearly stipulates conditions that must be met by buildings to be considered as appropriate for housing," said Mazúr. The local authority in Vrútky last week tore down two illegally inhabited shacks and another three shelters used for wood standing on plots owned by the town. According to the current laws, municipalities aren't obliged to provide substitute accommodation in such cases.

Marek Hojsík from the Social Development Fund last week told the Pravda daily that that the local authority should not have torn down the shacks. "The right to housing is a fundamental right, necessary for survival. Rights that are related to survival are above the right to the use of one's property, as is evident from recent decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights," said Hojsík, adding that the affected Roma could therefore turn to the courts.

Meanwhile, people from Kafendova Street in Vrútky, where the shacks were located, received the demolition with relief after having complained about conditions there. According to Pollák, the troubles in Vrútky were caused by Roma who don't originate from the town. He recommends that the town set up Roma patrols and an on-the-ground social worker to tackle the social outfall. In addition, the town should construct low-standard flats for the Roma, for which it may ask for a state subsidy, said Pollák.

Mazúr says that the former government cancelled such social worker functions. He also said that the town has no plots where it would be able to build social flats.

Sources: TASR, Pravda

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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