Court rules Macedonian police must pay for racial profiling at the border
The Macedonian authorities racially profile their citizens who are trying to leave the country and stop Roma from leaving. According to a court judgment delivered this week, the Interior Ministry has to pay compensation to a Romani couple who were not allowed to cross the border to visit their family. They are represented by the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association, with support from the European Roma Rights Centre.
Two years ago Mr Muhedinov and Mrs Muhedinova were trying to visit their family in Switzerland, traveling with their grandchildren. They were the only passengers on their bus who were asked for anything more than their passports. The couple had all their documents, return tickets, €2000 cash and an invitation letter. Yet they were still forbidden to leave the country and the bus left the country without them.
Stories like this happen to Macedonian citizens of Roma origin all the time. It happens to them because they are Roma, a heavily discriminated community; the Macedonian government fears that they will apply for asylum in the EU if they leave. A judge found this couple were victims of racial discrimination and that their constitutional right to leave the country was breached.
The Basic Court of Bitola has now ordered the Interior Ministry of to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of 30,000.00 MKD (app. €500) each. The Ministry is expected to appeal.
“Most of us in Europe thought stopping people leaving their own country ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall.” - says Adam Weiss Legal Director of ERRC. “Not for Roma, though, for whom this is perhaps the most visible way of making them second-class citizens. We will continue litigating these cases, to stop this from happening anymore and to show Roma that the justice system works for them.”
“We welcome the decision of the Basic Court of Bitola, which follows the positive practice of the Basic Court Skopje 2 and the Appellate Court Skopje. This is the second case supported by MYLA where the Court determined there is discrimination and violation of the right to equal treatment on the ground of ethnicity. The decision is of high importance having into consideration that concerns as well the right to freedom of movement of the Roma population and the systematic discrimination in Republic of Macedonia happening over the past 4 years.” - Says Jasna Arangjelovik Orovcanec, project manager in MYLA.
The ERRC has reminded Macedonian authorities more than a year ago that this practice is unconstitutional.
For further information contact:
Jasna Arangelovikj Orovcanec