Public Officials Discriminate against Roma in Macedonia
28 May 2004
Roma in Macedonia continue to suffer violations of their rights. According to ERRC research, conducted in partnership with the Štip-based non-governmental organisation Association for the Human Rights Protection of Roma (ARRP), several days after having their water supply cut off by the public utilities company at the beginning of November 2003, seven representatives of the Romani community in the northeastern Macedonian town of Vinica went to the local Social Welfare Office to ask for assistance. The Romani representatives hoped the director of the Social Welfare Office would issue a letter to the public utilities company asking that their water be restored and their debt forgiven because of their material situation. However, according to ERRC/ARRP research, the director of the Social Welfare Office called for police assistance upon seeing the Romani group speaking with the office secretary, reportedly out of fear that they would attack her. Soon thereafter, five police officers arrived at the Social Welfare Office and an officer in civilian clothing stated to the group, "What are you doing here? Leave this office at once. Go look for your rights in India; not here." At this point, the Romani representatives left the building.
On November 10, 2003, the ERRC/ARRP sent a letter to the mayor of Vinica, expressing concern about the discriminatory attitudes exhibited by both local police and public employees. For more information on the human rights situation of Roma in Macedonia, see the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org/publications/indices/macedonia.shtml. (ARRP, ERRC)