Complaint on Human Rights Abuses
regarding housing, in order to halt forced and mass evictions and demolitions in
Ms. Rita Izsák
Independent Expert on minority issues
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Graham Fox: email@example.com
Ms. Raquel Rolnik
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Alto Comissariado para a Imigração e Diálogo Intercultural - ACIDI, I.P
R. Álvaro Coutinho, 14
1150 - 025 Lisboa
Fax: +351 218 106 117
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Council of Europe
Mr Nils Muižnieks
F- 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Fax: + 33 3 90 21 50 53
Vice-President in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
Ms Viviane Reding
Viviane Hoffmann: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Shotter: email@example.com
Dana Trama-Zada: firstname.lastname@example.org
High Commissioner on National Minorities
Mr Knut Vollebaek
2514 AP The Hague Netherlands
Copy addressed to:
Presidente da República
Dr. Cavaco Silva
Palácio de Belém
Calçada da Ajuda
Tel: (+351) 21 361 46 00
Fax: (+351) 21 363 66 03
Joaquim Moreira Rapouso
President of Amadora
Câmara Municipal da Amadora
Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas – Mina
Telefone: 214 369 000 (geral)
Fax: 214 922 082 (geral)
Grupos Parlamentares da Assembleia da República
Palácio de S. Bento
E-mail: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ;
firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ;
Complaint on Human Rights Abuses
regarding housing alternatives, in order to halt forced and mass evictions and
demolitions in Amadora, Portugal
We, Habita – Colectivo pelo Direito à Habitação e à Cidade, hereby wish to file acomplaint regarding the current situation in a neighbourhood called Bairro de Santa
Filomena, located in Amadora (Portugal). The perpetrator of the violation is the Municipal
Council of Amadora (Câmara Municipal da Amadora) and the victims are the inhabitants of
said neighbourhood.Organization submitting the complaint:
Habita – Colectivo pelo Direito à Habitação e à Cidade is a Portuguese collective dedicated
to the Right to Housing and the Right to the City. It fights for the concretization of these
fundamental rights, which are essential to human life as well as part of national and international
legislation. The group belongs to several international networks (International Alliance of
Inhabitants, No Vox) and has been building up experience in this field for several years. In the
course of time it has developped a dialog with other organizations as well as governmental entities
in several instances.
Victims of the violation:
In the settlement there are currently living hundreds of families that remain in the
neighbourhood in Santa Filomena. From those, 85 families are victims of threat of eviction without
credible alternatives, wich perform around 280 individuals. These include 23 children aged 5 or
less; 49 children aged 6 to 12; 32 teenagers aged 13 to 18; 176 adults aged 19 or more. 4 persons are
65 years old or more, including one person aged 88.
Two families are entirely Portuguese, most of the concerned people are from Cape-Verde.
The population also includes individuals originated from Sao Tome e Principe, Guinea, Angola and
Brasil. Most children were born in Portugal and 106 people have Portuguese nationality. 22
individuals (belonging to six different families) are holders of void documents (with the current
unemployment its dificult to renovate documents beause of no work contract).
20 families are one-parent families, of which 18 are single mothers with children and two
single fathers with children. 13 people present a permanent disability or a chronic disease. Eight
people live alone, of which five are without ressource, the remaining three earning respectively 190,
150 and 50€ per month.
79 inhabitants are unemployed and 54 families have at least one unemployed member; 87
individuals are studying or going to school. The estimated average of income is 250 to 300€ per
It is to be noted that half the families have been living in the neighbourhood for over ten
years; several families have been living there for two or three decades.
Part of the settlement where the families live is on public land, and another part of the land
is privately owned.
Context of the violation:
The Council of Amadora has not met the objectives of the rehousing program known as PER
(Programa Especial de Realojamento), which is based on a census made 20 years ago. As well as
unfulfilled, this program has thus become obsolete: the situation of the families and the
neighbourhood have of course changed in the course the last 20 years. It is necessary to confront the
problem instead of basing arguments on a 20-year-free old census.
There is no real access to free housing market in Portuguese society for the ones who are
poor. The minimum asked for a one room house in the suburbs is never less than 350 euros a mouth.
And landlords don't give contract to unemplyed people, or without guarantor.
Circumstances of the violation:
The Municipal Council of Amadora has been evicting inhabitants of Santa Filomena
neighbourhood, planning more demolitions as well threatening (with the police force) inhabitant in
order to pressure them into leaving their homes.
The first demolitions occurred in February and have been happening on a regular basis until
today. The inhabitants have been notified of upcoming demolitions starting July, 17th, others are
scheduled for July 19th and 25th. Further inhabitants have been notified by the Municipal Council
that they must leave their homes before the end of the month with no indication of a specific date.
As of today, 16 families – i.e 51 persons of which 12 are aged 10 or less and 6 are between
10 and 18 years old – have received a notification of eviction. Many have had to leave the
neighbourhood, others are simply waiting for the machines to come and demolish their home. Some
families or individuals are eligible for the PER program. However, this rehousing program is based
on data collected in 1993, making it obsolete as well as disconnected from reality. Furthermore, the
rehousing proposals made by the Council are in many case unsatisfactory and indecent. For
instance, one proposal was to house three couples in a three-room appartment.
Current living conditions in the neighbourhood:
The living conditions in the neighbourhood are poor, the houses are self-help housing.
However, some people having been living in the neighbourhood for thirty years, most of them are
solid, made of concrete. Hygiene conditions are also poor and there is no satisfactory waste disposal
system. It is to be noted that the living conditions are also quite diminished by the demolished
houses and the rubble this causes.
Eviction notification procedures:
Some inhabitants have received a written eviction notice either stuck to their front door or
delivered personaly (if they were at home at the time); others were informed by telephone; others
were informed oraly during meetings with the council. In some cases of oral warning, the Council
alleges the inhabitants received a notification in 2007; the inhabitants however claim this is not
Alternatives offered by the Council:
The Council is offering the inhabitants various alternatives, none of which are acceptable.
In the case of inhabitants eligible for PER, the Special Rehousing Program, a rehousing
proposal is made; however, in many cases the proposal in unsatisfactory and completely inadequate
in regard to the family's situation or size.
Some inhabitants were given a determined amount of time to find a new home, for which the
Council offers support from Social Security (wich means connivance from the Government) to pay
one, two or three months of rent. However, in regard to the economic and social situation of the
inhabitants, it is not conceivable that they manage to enter the renting market. With most families
earning between 250 and 300€ per month and being unable to provide a guarantor, it is most
unlikely they will be able to obtain a renting contract in the global renting market. Even if they did,
it would probably be impossible for the families to go on paying the rent once the months paid by
the Council would be over.
The third option, formulated orally, is for the inhabitants to ask family members for money,
or return to their country of origin. This is, of course unacceptable, especially given the fact that
many have Portuguese children and have been living in Portugal for several decades.
When the inhabitants refuse the Council's proposition(s), they are put under threat and “notified” that the demolition will happen wether with or without their cooperation. They are also
warned that in the case that they do not cooperate, the police will intervene (wich means connivance
from the Government).
Actions engaged by Habita:
In order to try to stop this alarming series of demolitions, Habita has engaged several
Meetings have been required with the Municipal Council, none of which having been
A letter has been signed by all inhabitants and submitted to the Mayor; however, despite the
pacific nature of this reunion, the inhabitants and collective were brutally attacked and forced by the
police to leave the premises.
Protective orders have been and are being filed, but as of today only one has been processed.
Governmental and non-governmental organs, organizations and associations have been contacted
and informed of the situation.
Institutional and legal basis of the complaint:
We are aware that Amadora Municipal Council does not have the capacity to solve this
problem alone; however, this cannot justify that they threaten people's lives and safety by evicting
them and demolishing their only shelter. Amadora Municipal Council, with the help of the
Portuguese Government (represented by the Social Security and the police) is grossly violating
national and international legislation ratified by Portugal and to which Portugal is thus bound. The
evictions violate not only the right to housing but also the right not to be submitted to degrading and
/or humiliating treatment, the right to privacy as well as several children's rights, women's rights
and disabled people's rights.
We base our positions especifically on the Portuguese Republic's Constitution, which
contains dispositions protecting the right to housing, including Article 34 regarding the sanctity of
the household and of correspondance, as wel Article 65 regarding the right to housing and urban
We also refer to Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
rights and Article 31 of the European Social Charter in its revised version. Furthermore, the right to
housing is garanteed by Article 5(e)(iii) of the International Contract on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination; Article 14(2)(h) of the United Nations' Convention for the Elimination of all forms
of discrimination against women; Articles 5, 6, 7 of the United Nations' Convention on rights of
disabled people and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Portugal ratified its
adhesion to these treatees and is obliged to fulfill them.
We call on relevant Portuguese authorities to halt the forced evictions Bairro de Santa
Filomena, respect and act in accordance with their obligations under national and
international law and refrain from any acts and/or measures that would interfere with these
most fundamental and basic rights. We urge relevant Portuguese authorities to urgently and
efficiently address and resolve the housing problems of the residents by providing, at a very
minimum, alternative accommodation for evicted persons.