Roma Belong - Statelessness, Discrimination and Marginalisation of Roma in Ukraine

24 September 2018

The report ‘Statelessness, Discrimination and Marginalisation of Roma in Ukraine’ set out to better understand the nexus between discrimination, statelessness and its consequences for Roma in Ukraine. The report drew on interviews with affected persons and key stakeholders, to identify and analyse the main contributing factors and consequences of (the risk of) statelessness.

Lack of documentation is the biggest cause of (risk of) statelessness of Roma. Roma are considered to be the largest undocumented group in Ukraine. In most cases, such persons have the right to Ukrainian nationality under the Law, but without documents, cannot evidence their right.

There have been some underlying themes that have come out of the research.
Firstly, while the legal framework in Ukraine is largely non-discriminatory, pervasive negative stereotypes against Roma continue to undermine social and official attitudes towards Roma.

A further challenge relates to the gap between Ukraine’s legal framework (including its international obligations which have the force of law) and the rules, procedures and practices that contribute to a very different implementation reality. An inadequate policy framework and a burdensome bureaucracy disproportionately disadvantage Roma, and due to the lack of a statelessness determination procedure and the absence of any alternatives to register undocumented persons, those who are undocumented have very few options, and their undocumented status is also inherited by their children, thus creating a vicious cycle.

Another challenge relates to the lack of data related to both statelessness and Roma populations. This is symptomatic of the invisibility that accompanies structural discrimination.

Finally, discrimination is both a cause and a consequence of statelessness among Roma in Ukraine. Discrimination creates additional barriers to the access of fundamental rights and freedoms particularly for Roma as an ethnic minority and especially for those among them who are stateless or at risk of statelessness. Roma face direct and multiple discrimination not only in the documentation procedure but also in accessing education, employment, and other fundamental rights. Roma experience social prejudice on an everyday basis. 

These common themes point both to specific challenges of discrimination faced by Roma communities and individuals, and a more general bureaucratic challenge to effective governance and human rights in Ukraine.

The full report is available in English and Ukrainian


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