Roma Face Barriers to Freedom of Movement in Macedonia

20 April 2012

Budapest, 20 April 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre sent a letter to Macedonian authorities today, raising concerns over the freedom of movement of Romani citizens.

In March 2012, five Romani musicians travelling to Germany to play at a wedding were stopped at the Tabanovce border. Border guards did not allow them to leave the country although they possessed all requisite documentation and put marks in three passports, which may prevent them from travelling freely in the future. All of the musicians were denied the right to leave the country, a human right enshrined in many international standards, as well as the Macedonian constitution itself.

In 2011, the ERRC documented at least 10 cases in which Romani people were denied the right to exit the country at Macedonian border crossings to Bulgaria and Serbia. Border guards regularly stop Romani individuals who they believe may be seeking asylum abroad, denying them the right to leave the countries. Recent media reports indicate the government is also planning to introduce new measures aimed at preventing past asylum seekers from travelling to the EU and criminalising “asylum abuse”, which could further violate human rights.

The ERRC called on the Macedonian government to provide new, unmarked documentation for the affected individuals, and to eliminate any punitive laws, policies and practices that limit the right to free movement. Personal data about potential asylum seekers should not be gathered or used as a basis for preventing a citizen from leaving the country.

For further information, contact:

Sinan Gökcen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre


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