ERRC Submits Written Comments Concerning Moldova's Roma Rights Record to the United Nations Human Rights Committee
18 July 2002
Today the United Nations Human Rights Committee reviews the Republic of Moldova's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In the run-up to today's meeting, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) sent written comments to the Committee for considerations during its review. The ERRC submission documents patterns of racially motivated violence, police abuse, and systematic racial discrimination against Roma in Moldova, as well as the failure of national and local authorities to protect Roma from violence and discrimination and to offer Romani victims of human rights abuse access to effective remedies.
On the occasion of the review, ERRC executive director Dimitrina Petrova said, "The UN Human Rights Committee meeting offers a unique opportunity finally to shed much-needed light on the difficult human rights situation of Roma in Moldova." The head of the ERRC partner organization in Moldova, the Moldovan Helsinki Committee, Mr Stefan Uritu, declared that he hoped the Committee's review will show that "authorities in Moldova are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to policies toward Roma. They allocate more resources to fighting petty crimes committed by Roma than they allocate to ensuring that all Roma have equal access to employment, education, and health services."
The ERRC is aware of the measures taken by the Government of the Republic of Moldova ("the Government") as they are described in the report submitted by the Government under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("the Covenant"). To date, however, these measures have been insufficient to ensure the effective implementation of the Covenant, particularly with regard to Articles 2 (non-discrimination), 7 (prohibition of torture), 9 (deprivation of liberty), 10 (treatment of persons in detention), 14 (equality before courts), 25.b (right to vote), and 26 (non-discrimination).
As to Article 2, Roma suffer widespread discrimination in virtually all spheres of public life. Legal prohibitions and other legal and administrative measures against racial discrimination and racially motivated violence remain uncertain in scope and provide for ineffective remedies. Moreover, there is little indication that officials at all levels of Government are aware of " let alone determined to act to combat " racial discrimination against Roma.
As to Article 7, Roma are subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by both state and non-state actors. Law enforcement authorities, meanwhile, systematically fail to provide effective protection to Roma.
As to Articles 9 and 10, Roma are often subject to arbitrary arrest and detention and are frequently not informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for arrest, or of any criminal charges they may face. Moreover, Roma deprived of their liberty are often not treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
As to Article 14, Roma suffer discrimination in the judicial system, both as victims pursuing justice for violations perpetrated against them (their complaints are not adequately investigated and prosecuted), and as defendants (the minimum guarantees of due process are not implemented). As a result, the Covenant's right to equal treatment before courts and tribunals rings hollow for Roma.
As to the Article 25, Roma are underrepresented in the administration, due among other factors to violations of their political rights, i.e. the right to vote.
As to Article 26, notwithstanding Constitutional provisions guaranteeing equality, the Government has failed to ensure Roma equal protection of the law. Roma suffer widespread discrimination in virtually all fields of public life, most egregiously and systematically in education, housing, employment, and access to public accommodations. Legal prohibitions against racial discrimination remain inadequate and provide for ineffective remedies. The problem of insufficient legislative provisions aimed at combating racial discrimination is further compounded by the failure to ensure effective implementation of those few legislative prohibitions which do aim counter racial discrimination.
In light of the above, the ERRC recommends that the Government undertake the following measures:
- Adopt and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination law;
- Discipline and prosecute police and other authorities for acts of violence and other crimes against Roma;
- Investigate and prosecute effectively anti-Romani crime, as well as instances of discrimination against Roma;
- Adopt and implement thorough-going policies to end swiftly racial segregation of Roma;
- Adopt pro-active measures to ensure that Roma are in practice able to realise the right to equal access to education;
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights such that the Human Rights Committee may receive and consider communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any of the rights set forth in the Covenant;
- Ratify Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
- At the highest levels, speak out against racial discrimination against Roma and others, and make clear that racism will not be tolerated.
The full text of the ERRC submission is available on the Internet at: ERRC: International Advocacy.
The ERRC is an international public interest law organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma in Europe and assists individuals and organisations in seeking remedies in cases of abuse. Since its establishment in 1996, the ERRC has undertaken first-hand field research in more than a dozen countries, including Moldova, and has disseminated numerous publications, from book-length studies to advocacy letters and public statements. An ERRC monitor is presently stationed in Moldova, with the Moldovan Helsinki Committee, reporting regularly on human rights developments concerning Roma. ERRC publications about Moldova and other countries and additional information about the organisation, are available on the Internet at http://errc.org.