ECHR finds against Bulgaria in discrimination case lodged by Roma from Voyvodinovo

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said on October 4 that it had ruled against Bulgaria in the case lodged by 56 Roma people, who were former residents of the village of Voyvodinovo.

The plaintiffs complained that they had been forced to leave their homes and prevented from returning subsequently, and that the authorities had refused them protection in an environment of racially based hostility.

The complaints were based on events in the village of Voyvodinovo in the district of Plovdiv in January and February 2019, which resulted in the demolition of illegal housing of Roma people.

The court dismissed the complaints lodged by five of the 56 plaintiffs as “manifestly ill-founded” and ruled that the rest were admissible.

ECHR ruled that “there has been a violation of Article 8 of the [European] Convention [on Human Rights] taken in conjunction with Article 14.”

Article 8 refers to the right to respect for private and family life and home, while article 14 prohibits discrimination on any ground.

“The Court finds the cumulative effect of the omissions of the different relevant authorities, namely the mayors, police and prosecutor’s offices, in terms of their positive obligations, resulted in a situation where all of the applicants had been driven away from their home and for which there had been no legal consequences,” the ruling said.

“The applicants were left unable to peacefully enjoy their private and family life and their homes and were not provided with the required protection of their Article 8 rights.”

The court ruled that there was no need to examine separately the merits of the complaint under article 13 of the convention, which stipulates the right to an effective remedy.

The ECHR ordered the Bulgarian state to pay a total of 109 000 euro to the 51 plaintiffs whose complaints were found admissible. Separately, the court ordered the Bulgarian state to pay 9000 euro for costs and expenses.

The court case is Paketova and others v. Bulgaria. The full ruling is available, in English, here.

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