ERRC Report on Roma in Macedonia


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Subject: ERRC Report on Roma in Macedonia

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ERRC Report on Roma in Macedonia


July 13, 1998
 
Press Release: ERRC Report on Human Rights Situation of Roma in
Macedonia=
 
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public
interest law organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in
Europe and provides legal defence to victims of human rights
violations, announces publication of the Country Series report, "A
Pleasant Fiction: The Human Rights Situation of Roma in Macedonia".
 
On the basis of field research conducted in Macedonia, the ERRC
concluded that the serious human rights issues that have given rise to
concern elsewhere in the region, such as rampant police abuse and
racially motivated violence, exist in Macedonia. Further, the
prevailing view that Macedonia is somehow "exceptional" with respect
to Roma has contributed to a consistently inadequate state response to
human rights violations of Roma. Macedonian authorities are among the
most enthusiastic supporters of the idea that "Roma have complete
civil rights in Macedonia", and have been lax in responding to the
many acts which contradict this pleasant fiction.

Recent sociological surveys indicate that high levels of aversion
toward Roma prevail among ethnic Macedonians and other ethnic groups
in Macedonia.
 
The report is structured as follows: following discussion of
large-scale deportations of Roma from western Europe, specifically
Germany, which have taken place throughout the 1990s, the report
reviews the effects on Roma of the 1992 Act on Citizenship, and the
existence of high numbers of stateless persons among Roma in
Macedonia. The following chapter describes ethnic tensions and
racially motivated violence against Roma. In chapter five, police and
judicial abuses of Roma rights, especially police violence, court
failure to remedy police violence, and a denial by Macedonian
authorities of the existence of anti-Romani hate crime are discussed.
Chapter six addresses the issue of forced homelessness and abuses by
municipal authorities, including instances of discrimination in the
allocation of social welfare payments. Chapters seven and eight
discuss political abuse and education respectively. Finally, service
bans in restaurants, bars, clubs and discos are presented.
 
As a result of the findings of the report, the European Roma Rights
Center urges the government of the Republic of Macedonia to adopt all
of the following policies in full:
 
1. Without further delay, sign and ratify United Nations Convention on
the Reduction of Statelessness and ratify the European Convention on
Nationality.
 
2. Amend Macedonian legislation on citizenship by acknowledging the
legitimate ties to Macedonia of Roma from the former Yugoslavia,
thereby bringing the Macedonian citizenship law into conformity with
international norms on citizenship in the context of state succession.
All persons permanently residing on the territory on the date on which
Macedonia declared its independence should be automatically granted
citizenship in the new Macedonian state.
 
3. Initiate measures to insure that all Roma in Macedonia who are
currently stateless are provided with clear guidance in acquiring
and/or documenting Macedonian citizenship; reduce the administative
barriers to the acquisition of citizenship and give more transparency
to the application  of the Act on Citizenship by:
- registering all applications for citizenship and giving guidance to
individuals as to when and how the conditions for granting citizenship
may be fulfilled;
- issuing all rejections in writing with the ground or grounds for
rejection clearly stated;
- adopting guidelines for the interpretation of the Act on Citizenship
and making these public.
 
4. Produce accurate statistics on the number of persons in the
Republic of Macedonia and with legitimate ties to the Republic of
Macedonia who are presently without citizenship and the reasons for
their statelessness.
 
5. Appoint a special person in each district authority to deal with
the citizenship applications from, and give information to, the Romani
community; advertise the name, telephone number and functions of this
person in the media.
 
6. Investigate fully and bring to justice the persons responsible for
the death of Ms Rekibe Mehmed.

7. Take concrete steps to reduce the disturbing levels of police
brutality in Macedonia, including training for police officers and
discipline and criminal prosecution of police officers who violate
international norms on police procedure.

8. Facilitate the investigation into instances of police brutality by
providing trustworthy and reliable avenues for the reporting of police
abuse to Romani individuals who have been abused. Publicise the
existence of such avenues widely.
 
9. Investigate allegations of inactivity by police investigation
authorities.
 
10. Amend the Criminal Code by establishing articles providing
sentencing enhancements for racially motivated violence.

11. Consistent with international privacy protections, gather
statistics which might provide indicators with which to assess and
quantify racial discrimination in the criminal justice system,
including data concerning racial/ethnic identity of crime victims, as
well as persons arrested, indicted, tried and sentenced for various
offences; gather statistics on ethnically and racially motivated
crime, including figures on perpetrators, victims, defendants of
racially motivated crime, as well as individuals charged, individuals
convicted and individuals sentenced in connection with racially
motivated crime.

12. Investigate allegations of racial discrimination in the criminal
justice system.
 
13. Provide racial tolerance training and training in international
law for judges.
 
14. Provide housing for, or assist in the housing of, the victims of
the 1992 ghetto fire.
 
15. Provide assistance with the legalisation of Romani settlements and
other dwellings of Roma which are presently not legally registered.

16. Intervene at a local level to remedy the current dearth of proper
roads, electrical provisions, water supply, sewer systems and other
waste-removal infrastructure in Romani communities.
 
17. Take steps to ensure that in the present transition period to a
market economy, Roma displaced from housing due to privatisation
procedures are provided with decent alternative accommodation.
 
18. Provide extensive financial assistance to Romani families for the
purchase of school textbooks and materials.

19. Address immediately the significant language problems barring
Romani children from integration into the mainstream of the Macedonian
educational system. Allocate appropriate funding for language training
and create adult education courses for re-certification.
 
20. Investigate and punish acts of violence and/or harrassment of
Romani children by teachers and others in schools.
 
21. Undertake effective affirmative action programmes for Roma at
secondary and tertiary levels of education.
 
22. Make available to all Roma communities legal services to
compensate for the relative exclusion of Roma from Macedonian society
and the Macedonian legal system.

23. Undertake affirmative action in hiring Roma and other minorities
in public employment including the police force, local government and
the judiciary.

__________________________________________
 
All publications by the ERRC can be found on the ERRC internet website
at: 

www.errc.com
 
"A Pleasant Fiction: The Human Rights Situation of Roma in Macedonia"
can be found at:
 
www.errc.com/reports/macedonia.pdf
 
Hard copies of the report are available at a cost of 8 US Dollars from
the ERRC:
 
European Roma Rights Center
P.O.Box  10/24
1525 Budapest 114
Hungary
 
Phone: + (36 1)  327-98-77  
Fax: + (36-1) 338-37-27
 
Board of directors:   
 
Andras Biro, Chair (Hungary)   
Nicolae Gheorghe (Romania)   
Isabel Fonseca (UK)
Deborah Harding (USA) 
Khristo Kyuchukov (Bulgaria)
Lord Lester of Herne Hill Q.C.(UK)

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