The European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg launched a procedure to introduce temporary measures against Serbia because of a danger of violating the right to life and to prevent inhuman and humiliating treatment of Roma in an informal settlement in Belgrade, the Initiative for Economic and Social Rights A11 said on Wednesday.
A11 said that 70 Roma families lived in the settlement since 1999 when they escaped from Kosovo were left on their own, without water, power and organised garbage collection, surrounded with woods, and, as of recently, accompanied by rats.
During the coronavirus pandemic, when people are urged to use more hygienic measures to prevent virus transmission, several hundred people have no chance for that, A11 adds.
"After several attempts to animate Serbia's Government to take measures to protect the most endangered groups urgently and after we were left with no other options, A11 submitted a request to the ECtHR to deliver a temporary measure against Serbia," A11 statement said.
The Court, the only institution people from Serbia can address to during the state of emergency, acted immediately and started the procedure against Serbia, confirming the gravity of the situation in the Roma settlement.
A11 says there are at least 583 informal Roma settlements in Serbia and that in almost 40 percent of them the houses have no water supply. "That means that at least 25,000 Roma live without water."
A11 appealed to Serbia's Government to take urgent measures to protect the most endangered on March 17, two days after the declaration of the state of emergency, and then prepared a draft of measures to be taken to protect those groups together with the Government Team for Reducing Poverty and experts for social rights.
The Government hasn't replied so far, A11 said, adding that "in the meantime, the situation in informal Roma settlements is on the verge of catastrophe."
The Initiative said it hoped Serbia would not wait for the new procedures due to the situation on other settlements, but would urgently apply measures to protect Roma in them.