Rights Groups Lobby for Government Action on Roma Issues in Bulgaria, Montenegro and Turkey around CERD Review
27 March 2009
Today, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and national partners Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), Centre for Roma Initiatives (CRI) and Edirne Roma Association (EDROM) sent letters to the Bulgarian, Montenegrin and Turkish governments to promptly implement recommendations for improving the situation of Roma recently by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Following its review of the countries' implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in February 2009, the CERD expressed concern about barriers to equal access to employment, health care, education and housing faced by Roma in each country. In particular, the CERD raised concerns regarding the large proportion of Romani children not enrolled in, or not completing, education and the problem of Romani children placed in schools for persons with disabilities. In Bulgaria and Montenegro the CERD expressed concern at continued reports of police brutality and ill-treatment against minorities, especially targeting Roma, compounded by the absence of prompt, impartial investigation in such cases. Finally, the CERD noted the low representation of minorities and lack of disaggregated data concerning minority employment within the public administration, army and police, emphasising that this "can be result of discriminatory practices during selection and recruitment."
In its Concluding Observations, the Committee urged the government of Bulgaria to implement measures outlined in the Decade for Roma Inclusion's National Action Plan, which aim to improve access of Roma to employment, health care, housing and education. The Committee encouraged the government to cooperate with civil society to improve the integration of Romani children in the school system, and called on the government to fight abuse of authority and ill-treatment of minorities by the police, establish an independent body to guarantee effective legal remedy and punishment in such situations and increase representation of Roma in the police force. Finally, the CERD urged the Bulgarian government to increase the representation of minority groups in public services and to prevent discrimination in selection and recruitment process.
In its Concluding Observations on Montenegro, the CERD recommended that the government ratify the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and grant the status of citizen, long-term resident or refugee to IDPs and displaced persons from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, many of whom are Romani. The Committee also requested that the government submit disaggregated data about ethnic minorities relating to education, social inclusion, economic standing and employment in public bodies and institutions. The CERD encouraged the government to document all allegations of ill-treatment and police brutality, investigate claims of such behaviour in an independent, prompt and thorough fashion, and prosecute and punish all offenders.
Following its review of Turkey, the CERD recommended that the government enact special measures to overcome the disadvantages in education, employment and housing created by persistent discrimination against Roma. It called on the government to develop comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and undertake the necessary reforms to legally recognise the existence of some ethnic minority groups, such as Roma, who are experiencing "a more difficult socio-economic situation that the rest of the population." Moreover, the CERD recommended that the government combat hostile attitudes, attacks and threats by the general public towards Roma and other groups through information and education campaigns. Finally, the Committee requested that the government amend domestic criminal legislation to classify ethnic, racial or religious hatred as a motive for crimes and ensure that it is considered "an aggravating circumstance in proceedings under criminal law."
The full texts of the CERD's Concluding Observations are available. In the run-up to the session, the ERRC and its partners submitted parallel reports on the situation of Roma in Bulgaria, Montenegro and Turkey for consideration by the Committee. The CERD's findings echo the very serious concerns raised in those reports concerning racial discrimination against Roma. The submissions are available online.
For more information on the review and the submissions, please contact:
ERRC: Idaver Memedov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee: Krassimir Kanev, email@example.com
ERRC: Ostalinda Maya, firstname.lastname@example.org
Centre for Roma Initiatives: Fana Delija, email@example.com
ERRC: Idaver Memedov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Edirne Roma Association: Erdinç Çekiç, email@example.com