IHRP to Receive Prestigious Zenith Award for Work to Protect Roma Rights

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Helps Deliver Justice for Roma before European Court of Human Rights

The IHRP has won a significant victory for international human rights in a case involving discrimination against Roma people in Romania.

On May, 26, 2009 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France released its decision in Tanase v.Romania. The case concerned a 1991 anti-Roma pogrom that resulted in 24 Roma families being beaten and driven from their homes by non-Roma villagers. The families have been unable to return to their community for the past 18 years.

The European Court of Human Rights accepted the Romanian government’s admission that itt was responsible for breaches of the European Convention, including the prohibition of torture, right to a fair trial, right to respect for private and family life, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination. The government committed to paying damages totalling 565,000 EUR, and undertook to implement a series of measures to prevent and fight discrimination and to improve living conditions for the Roma community.

The IHRP partnered with Toronto lawyer Junior Sirivar of McCarthy Tétrault who provided pro bono legal support. Several U of T law students worked on this case through the IHRP’s legal clinic. Mr. Emilian Niculae (a victim in the case and human rights activist) was instrumental in bringing the case before the European Court of Human Rights. He fled to Canada after the pogrom and enlisted the help of the IHRP to seek compensation for community members so they could rebuild their homes and lives.

“We are so proud of our students for their commitment to human rights and their involvement in this case,” says Dean Mayo Moran. “The decision represents an important victory for the victims of the pogrom and clearly illustrates the obligation of states to provide victims with redress,” she adds.

Mr. Niculae is grateful the IHRP took on the case. “I feel that I have someone who can really help me and I’m not alone. I feel glad that one day we can prove what happened there, the racism and the violence and injustice against my people,” he says.