Roma barred from sports centre pool in Yugoslavia

Organisations including the ERRC documented on July 12, 2000, that Roma had been banned from using the swimming pool at the Krsmanovac Sports Centre in Sabac, western Serbia. The sports centre is reportedly owned by the chairman of the District Committee of the Serbian Radical Party. On July 8, 2000, following complaints from Roma who were not allowed to use the pool, a group of three Serbs and three Roma, representatives of the ERRC and Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and two Romani NGOs, Democratic Association of Roma and Oaza, visited the sports center to investigate the allegations. When they tried to buy tickets for the pool, the staff asked the Romani men if they were Roma, and upon receiving an affirmative response, informed them that according to the sports center rules, Roma were not allowed to use the pool.

According to the HLC, barring Roma from using the pool constitutes a serious violation of the right to equality and human dignity guaranteed by the constitutions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. The sports centre's practice is also in contravention of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a signatory. On July 25, 2000, in cooperation with the ERRC, the HLC filed a legal action against the owner of the Krsmanovac Sports Center seeking compensation for injury to the reputation and dignity of the excluded Roma, and also requesting that the court order the owner, Mr C.V., to publicise the court's judgement and to apologise publicly. The ERRC and HLC filed both a civil and a criminal suit; the criminal suit pursuant to Article 60 of the Yugoslav Penal Code (violation of ethnic equality). The first court hearing of the civil suit was held on September 13. According to the HLC, criminal proceedings had not yet been opened as of October 9.

(ERRC, Humanitarian Law Center, Radio Free Europe)

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