McCarthy Tétrault and International Human Rights Program Achieve Justice for Roma People before European Court of Human Rights
August 6, 2009
Toronto, August 6, 2009 — McCarthy Tétrault and the Faculty of Law’s International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto have won an important case that draws attention to the significant 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. Lead applicant and case victim Mr. Emilian Niculae 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.
In partnership with the IHRP, McCarthy Tétrault provided pro bono legal support to Mr. Niculae. Firm lawyers included Mark Freiman and Junior Sirivar, assisted by several University of Toronto law students. Other expert witnesses provided pro bono services including Mark Berenblut, Senior Vice President of NERA Economic Consulting.
"Giving back to those in need is one of our key values," said W. Iain Scott, Chair and CEO of McCarthy Tétrault. "Our firm has a long tradition of pro bono service. Human rights have always been a priority for our pro bono initiatives. I’m very proud our lawyers could bring justice to victims of violence for which the Romanian government has accepted responsibility."
The European Court of Human Rights accepted the Romanian government’s admission that it 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.
"We are pleased to see the Romanian government acknowledge the wrongs committed against these applicants," Mr. Sirivar said. "They faced many challenges along the route to this decision, but through dedicated assistance from the IHRP and their own perseverance have now achieved their goal of recognition and reparation."
Mr. Niculae is grateful to McCarthy Tétrault and the IHRP. "I truly appreciate the efforts of the IHRP and Mr. Sirivar’s team. I feel glad that one day we can prove what happened in my village, the racism and the violence and injustice against my people," he said.
McCarthy Tétrault’s pro bono services cover areas as diverse as civil liberties, human rights, and financial, business, labour and employment law. McCarthy’s has been recognized as a national leader in providing legal services to those in need. The firm is the sole national law firm partner of Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), which assists over 500 public interest and community groups in need of legal services. McCarthy Tétrault is also first major Canadian law firm to be granted the status of "Partner Without Borders" by Lawyers Without Borders Canada.
About McCarthy Tétrault
McCarthy Tétrault provides a broad range of legal services, advising on large and complex assignments for Canadian and international interests. The firm is well-established in major commercial centres across Canada and in London, UK.
Built on a unique model of collaboration, the firm brings its legal talent, industry knowledge and practice experience, wherever they are needed, to help clients achieve the results that are important to them.
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