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The Protection of Roma Rights in Serbia and Montenegro

24 April 2003

The Protection of Roma Rights in Serbia and Montenegro
 

A memorandum prepared by the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) in association with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Field Operation in Serbia and Montenegro (UN OHCHR)

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Field Operation in Serbia and Montenegro (UN OHCHR) today publish jointly \223The Protection of Roma Rights in Serbia and Montenegro\224, a memorandum prepared in support of the Serbian and Montenegrin government's Strategy for Integration and Empowerment of Roma, and the Poverty Reduction Strategy in Serbia and Montenegro.

The new state union of Serbia and Montenegro has undertaken a number of important preliminary steps to address the deeply unsatisfactory human rights situation of Roma in the country. Serbia and Montenegro is now member of the Council of Europe, party to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. Roma are also officially recognised as a national minority under the federal Law on the Protection of Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities. In addition, in March 2003, a Charter on Human and Minority Rights and Civil Freedoms was adopted. However, despite these positive developments, the authorities in Serbia and Montenegro face considerable challenges to implement measures that will address the very serious human rights situation of Roma in Serbia and Montenegro.

The joint ERRC/UN OHCHR memorandum offers a detailed series of recommendations to the government of Serbia and Montenegro aimed at the improvement of the human rights situation of Roma in the country, including recommendations in the context of large-scale expulsions of Roma from Western Europe.

The memorandum details a number of areas of concern, including:

  • Current deficiencies in domestic anti-discrimination law
  • Physical abuse of Roma by police officers and other members of the public authority
  • Violence against Roma by racist "skinheads" and other non-state actors
  • Discrimination and racial segregation in the school system
  • Forced eviction, threats of forced eviction, and other violations of the right to adequate housing, including extremely substandard housing and failure to provide services
  • Discrimination against Roma in access to health care services
  • Discrimination in access to employment
  • Discrimination in the allocation of state social assistance
  • Discrimination in access to public places
  • Threats to the exercise of fundamental rights caused by a lack of personal documents/statelessness among Roma in Serbia and Montenegro
  • Issues particular to the large-scale forced return of Roma from Germany and other Western European countries.

Paper copies of the memorandum are available by contacting the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Human Rights Field Operation in Serbia and Montenegro or the European Roma Rights Center.

The Joint Memorandum:

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