ERRC Letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister


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Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 16:31:18 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: ERRC Letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>

ERRC Letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister


On January 10, 2002, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) sent a
letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic to express
concern at the situation of displaced Roma from Kosovo in Montenegro.
The ERRC noted that according to reports, a number of displaced Kosovo
Roma presently live in extreme poverty, with inadequate housing,
health and food provisions. In the letter, the ERRC urges Prime
Minister Vujanovic to take measures without delay to provide adequate
shelter as well as any other form of assistance necessary to ensure
that the fundamental social and economic rights of the internally
displaced Kosovo Roma are secured. Further information on Roma in
Montenegro is available on the Internet at:
http://errc.org/publications/indices/montenegro.shtml.
Information on the ethnic cleansing of Roma from Kosovo is available
at:
http://errc.org/publications/indices/kosovo.shtml. The text of the
ERRC letter follows:

Honourable Prime Minister Vujanovic,

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public
interest law organisation which monitors the human rights situation of
Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse, is
concerned about the situation of displaced Kosovo Roma in the Republic
of Montenegro, Yugoslavia.

The ERRC has received information that around ninety persons from
twenty Romani families, mostly displaced from the province of Kosovo
and currently settled in the Lovanja settlement, struggle daily just
to survive. Lovanja is located in the Tivat Field (Tivatsko polje), in
the territory of Kotor municipality, on the Montenegrin coast of the
Adriatic Sea. According to the Tivat-based non-governmental
organisation MARGO ­ Association for Help and Support to Marginal
Society Groups, the Roma of Lovanja live on the edge of a local
garbage dump in highly substandard housing conditions in improvised
huts. The settlement does not have a regular supply of potable water
or electricity supply, and is under threat of flooding in heavy
rainfall. The closest medical facility is reportedly in the town of
Kotor, around 8 km away from the settlement, and there are no public
transport connections. Reportedly, the local authorities had decided
to relocate the settlement to a more humane environment in 1999, but
no changes have been implemented to date.

Roma in the settlement live in extreme poverty. About one half of the
settlement’s inhabitants are under the age of 18, and none of the
children attend school. One third of the adults in Lovanja reportedly
suffer from chronic diseases, or have a physical disability, and are
thus unable to work. The only way of making a living for the Lovanja
Roma is the collection of scrap materials and occasional manual labour
paid by the hour.

According to the Secretariat for Displaced Persons of Montenegro,
Lovanja is categorised as an "centre for displaced persons".
Unofficial camps, which largely outnumber official camps, are
self-made temporary shelters. According to MARGO, no Roma have been
assigned accommodation in the official camps for displaced persons in
Montenegro. Additionally, the current material situation of Kosovo
Roma in Montenegro is worsening, due to the fact that many of the
international non-governmental organisations providing humanitarian
assistance in Montenegro have closed down their programmes, or are in
the final stages of operation. Restricted humanitarian aid delivered
to the needy is therefore diminishing, and the Roma of Lovanja are
therefore presently malnourished with the prospect of real starvation
a serious threat.

The ERRC notes that Yugoslavia is a signatory to a number of
international human rights treaties, notably the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, thus engaging
responsibility in guaranteeing inter alia the right to an adequate
standard of living (including adequate food, clothing and housing)
(Article 11), medical care (Article 12), and education (Article 13).
Additionally, Yugoslavia has also ratified the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) whose
Article 5(e) commits parties to guaranteeing, without distinction as
to race, economic and social rights, including the right to housing,
medical care and education.

The ERRC additionally notes that Principle 18 of the 1998 Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement, prepared by the UN
Secretary-General's Special Representative on Internally Displaced
Persons, states that:

"1. All internally displaced persons have the right to an adequate
standard of living. 
2. At the minimum, regardless of the circumstances, and without
discrimination, competent authorities shall provide internally
displaced persons with and ensure safe access to:
(a) Essential food and potable water;
(b) Basic shelter and housing;
(c) Appropriate clothing; and
(d) Essential medical services and sanitation."

Honourable Prime Minister Vujanovic, the ERRC urges your office to
take measures without delay to provide adequate shelter as well as any
other form of assistance necessary to ensure that the fundamental
social and economic rights of the internally displaced Kosovo Roma in
the Lovanja settlement are secured. We respectfully request to be
informed of any actions taken by your office in connection with these
issues.

Sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director

Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:

Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic
Vlada Crne Gore
81000 Podgorica,
Montenegro
Yugoslavia
Fax: +381 81 242 329
Telephone: +381 81 242 530

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest
law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

_____________________________________________

SUPPORT THE ERRC!

The European Roma Rights Center is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank
transfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:

European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1
Hungary

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please use
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