UN Committee Criticises Greece over Treatment of Roma

On February 1, 2002, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child released its concluding observations and recommendations, concerning the compliance of Greece with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The committee made many references to Roma in its reports and noted many concerns regarding Romani children in Greece. Specifically, the Committee expressed concern that: “[…] the right of some children, and particularly child members of some distinct ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural groups such as the Roma, to birth registration is not respected as a result of a lack of information on birth registration procedures, a lack of legal representation for particular population groups and the lack of sufficiently decentralised services.” Regarding assistance to parents, the Committee expressed concern “that the amount of such financial allowances is extremely low and, in addition, that many Roma families do not receive these allowances at all. […] Children from certain groups, such as the Roma and some immigrant groups, have particularly poor access to health care, leading to a high level of health concerns. […] Children from Roma communities are particularly exposed to living conditions without adequate housing, appropriate sanitation and waste disposal or running water. […] the very high estimated figures for illiteracy among Roma children […].” The Committee’s concerns were following by recommendations, in which the Committee urged the government of Greece to: “strengthen its efforts to protect children’s rights to a family environment, including through reducing the numbers of persons living in poverty and ensuring access for all children and parents, in need, to financial assistance giving particular attention, in this regard, to children and parents from Roma communities. […] Give particular attention to ensuring the access to health care of children from Roma communities and other economically disadvantaged groups. […] Give particular attention to assisting Roma families in improving the living conditions of their children. […] Ensure the access to education for all children in the State party, including increasing the enrolment and reducing the drop out rates, giving particular attention to children in rural communities, children from Roma […]. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to develop and implement policies and programmes toward improved respect for the rights of Roma children, including through co-operation with representatives of the Roma themselves and through empowerment of Roma communities.” The full text of the concluding observations of the Committee on Greece are available online at: http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/bhr/english/special_issues/crc.html

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