Albania Ombudsman Slams Razing of Roma Homes

Albania's National Inspectorate for the Protection of the Territory, IKMT, has been condemned for demolishing seven homes belonging to the Roma community with police assistance in the suburb of Selita, clearing the way for Tirana's new ring road.

The Ombudsman's office complained that the IKMT had failed to follow standard procedures for the demolition of "illegal buildings", breaching the rights of the vulnerable Roma community.

"The procedure followed by the IKMT is in breach of the law," Alket Jaupi, from the office of the Ombudsman, told BIRN. "This institution should have acted based on a written order and respected the procedures to demolish a building deemed as illegal, including giving the necessary warning to the inhabitants before the demolition," he added.  

The IKMT failed to respond to a request for comment from BIRN.

The Ombudsman on Friday held a meeting with the Roma families whose homes have been demolished.

The families are demanding compensation for their demolished properties but the municipality of Tirana has rejected their claim, arguing that it cannot be sure that the buildings were built before 1991.  

If they were built before the fall of the communist regime, the law says that if they are demolished they merit compensation whether or not they have property titles, which the Roma lack.

However, the small Roma community says it has been living in the area on the outskirts of Tirana for 30 years and human rights lawyers' representing them have launched an appeal against the municipality's assessment.

Although the municipality is not offering the families compensation for their vanished homes it has offered them a lump sum equal to two years of rent to smooth the resettlement.

However, the...

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