United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Issues Concluding Observations on Serbia and Montenegro

22 July 2005

On May 13, 2005 at its thirty-fourth session, the CESCR made public its concluding observations on Serbia and Montenegro. The Committee provided extensive commentary on the situation of Roma in Serbia and Montengaro and noted with concern the fact that despite the State party's efforts to improve the economic and social situation of Roma through National Plans of Action for the implementation of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, "widespread discrimination of Roma persists with regard to employment, social security, housing, health care and education." In addition to concerns with regards to high levels of inter-ethnic violence and racially motivated attacks, high unemployment rates and the high numbers of informally employed Roma, the CESCR noted with concern:

"14. […] the uncertain residence status and the limited access by refugees, returnees from third countries and internally displaced persons, including internally displaced Roma, to personal identification documents which are a requirement for numerous entitlements, such as eligibility to work, to apply for unemployment and other social security benefits, or to register for school.

"29. […] that poverty among Roma is between four and five times higher than among the average population.

"30. […] the poor conditions in which thousands of Roma families live in sub-standard informal settlements without access to basic services such as electricity, running water, sewage facilities, medical care and schools.

"31. […] that many refugees, internally displaced persons and Roma are being evicted from illegal collective centres and informal settlements which are being closed down without sufficient provision of adequate alternative housing.

"37. […] that a high percentage of Roma children and children belonging to other minority groups, as well as refugee and internally displaced children, are not enrolled in school, drop out at an early stage, are being discriminated against at school, or are placed in schools for children with special needs."

Photo: ERRCThe CESCR recommended the government of Serbia and Montenegro to "take special measures to alleviate the extent of poverty among Roma." Additionally, the Committee recommended the State party to: facilitate the necessary procedures to obtain personal documents; improve the infrastructure of existing settlements or ensure that Roma have access to adequate and affordable housing; to ensure that adequate alternative housing is provided whenever forced evictions take place; to ensure universal access to affordable primary health care; to take effective measures to promote school attendance by Roma children and to eradicate ethnically discriminatory attitudes.

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