NGO KHAM Delchevo and others v North Macedonia (third-party intervention, pending)

18 February 2020


An NGO in Delchevo (North Macedonia) set up a situation testing exercise to gather evidence showing that North Macedonian citizens of Roma ethnic origin were being racially profiled by border police. Following the testing exercise, they brought a discrimination case to the civil courts in North Macedonia. They lost the case. So they turned to the European Court of Human Rights.

The ERRC's Third-Party Intervention

As the ERRC was not involved in the case, we asked if we could make submissions to the European Court as a “third-party intervener”. This means that we can send written comments to the Court designed to help the Court make its ruling. The European Court accepted and on 5 February 2020 we submitted our third-party intervention.

In our intervention, we set out the extensive evidence that border guards have been racially profiling North Macedonian citizens of Roma ethnic origin and stopping many of them from leaving the country. That evidence includes: the ERRC’s own non-exhaustive data collection based on interviews with people affected, covering 422 Roma stopped from leaving the country; a situation-testing exercise we carried out in December 2013 and which led to successful litigation before the national courts; an admission by the Interior Minister in late 2016 that the practice had been taking place; a power-point presentation delivered by a Ministry of Interior official to international colleagues in Strasbourg in 2014 describing the “profile” of the typical returned failed asylum seeker (including that such a person is most likely to be Romani) and saying that people who fit this profile were stopped at the border when trying to leave the country; documents from the European Union identifying most asylum seekers from North Macedonia as Roma and urging the North Macedonian government to take action, which we believed amounted to a clear indication to engage in racial profiling; and conclusions from Council of Europe bodies, UN bodies, and the national Ombudsperson identifying and condemning this practice of racial profiling. We gave an overview of cases that the ERRC has supported in the domestic courts on the issue, showing inconsistencies and misunderstandings by national judges. We went on to say that the time had come for the Court to use the term “antigypsyism” in its case law. We set out widely accepted definitions of the terms “antigypsyism” and “institutional racism” and urged the Court to use the term “institutional antigypsyism” to describe the practice of racial profiling of Roma at the border in North Macedonia. 

The Court's statement of facts in the case can be found here.

The ERRC's third-party intervention can be found here.


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