Bucharest: Romania must urgently put an end to the forced eviction from their homes of Roma, many of whom have no option but to resettle in unsafe or polluted areas, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
"Legislative flaws allow local authorities to sweep away long-established Roma communities and relocate them to inadequate housing, out of sight of the rest of the population, under the pretext of `inner-city regeneration` and `development`," the London-based watchdog said in a report.
One woman, Claudia Greta, told Amnesty of her family`s forced relocation in 2010 to an area near a landfill and former chemical waste dump in the western city of Cluj-Napoca.
Greta said more than 30 people have to share the bathroom in her housing unit where she, her husband and three sons live in one room.
"I need to ask my children to get out or turn away to the wall when I wash myself," she says. "What else (can I) do? Where else can I wash?"
Romania counts the largest Roma minority in Europe, 619,000 people according to the last census, up to two million according to NGOs.
Enslaved for centuries, they still face discrimination in the job and housing markets, despite some progress in recent years, a report by Roma rights group Impreuna showed last month.
Amnesty focused on the housing issue following cases that triggered controversy in the last three years.
The report said there was a clear pattern of human rights violations by Romanian authorities in relation to Roma living in informal settlements or being forcibly evicted from their homes.
"In all the cases researched, the local authorities failed to provide people affected by eviction with opportunities for genuine consultation or access to effective remedies, despite the fact that housing rights have been violated," the report said.
It urged the Romanian government to urgently end the violations, pointing to the country`s international obligations.
"What we see in 21st century Romania is the deliberate expulsion from the society of vulnerable people who live below or on the poverty line and suffer from inadequate housing conditions," said Barbora Cernusakova, Amnesty`s expert on Romania.
Romania "must bring its authority to bear on local officials to respect and fulfil the housing rights of all people and put an end to forced evictions," she added.