UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Concerned at the Situation of Roma in Macedonia

15 December 2006

Macedonian Government Urged to Take Concrete Steps to Improve the Situation of Roma

Budapest, Kumanovo. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the National Roma Centrum (NRC) today welcomed the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on Macedonia's compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The comments follow the Committee's review of Macedonia at its 37th session in November.

In its Concluding Observations, the CESCR raised many issues of concern for Roma in Macedonia. In particular, the Committee expressed concern about widespread discrimination against Roma in access to employment, social assistance, health care, education, personal documents and citizenship, as well as the substandard and insecure housing situation of Roma.

The CESCR also issued a serious of recommendations to the Macedonian government aimed at improving to situation of Roma in accessing economic, social and cultural rights. Specifically, the Committee recommended that the Macedonian government: 

  • "[…] consider the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation covering also indirect discrimination and without undue citizenship requirements.
  • "[…] intensify its efforts to combat discrimination against Roma in all fields covered by the Covenant, urgently process pending citizenship claims from Roma, Albanian and other minority applicants, and take immediate steps, e.g. by removing administrative obstacles, to issue all Roma applicants with personal documents, with a view to ensuring their equal access to social insurance, health care and other benefits.
  • "[…] adopt temporary special measures to ensure that women, in particular Roma and other minority women as well as women living in rural areas, have the same access to the regular labour market as men, including to senior positions, and that the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value is implemented in practice.
  • "[…] increase its efforts to combat unemployment through specifically targeted measures, including programmes aimed at reducing unemployment among women and disadvantaged and marginalized groups, and to gradually regularize the situation of persons working in the informal sector.
  • " […] take all necessary measures to combat the phenomenon of street children and to protect their families, inter alia, by constructing low-cost housing and providing basic infrastructure and amenities; relocating waste disposal sites from Roma settlements; providing job opportunities; opening additional day centres for street children, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, as well as outpatient clinics; and providing medical counselling and basic medication to these children and their families.
  • "[…] ensure, by legalizing and improving the infrastructure and amenities of existing Roma settlements or through social housing programmes, that all Roma have access to adequate and affordable housing, security of tenure, electricity, adequate drinking water, sanitation and other essential services, including safe access to roads. It also urges the State party to ensure that adequate alternative housing is provided whenever forced evictions take place, in line with the Committee's general comment No. 7 (1997), and to include updated statistical data on an annual basis on the number of forced evictions, arrangements for alternative housing and the extent of homelessness, as well as information on the measures taken to legalize and improve the infrastructure and amenities of Roma settlements, in its next periodic report.
  • "[…] intensify its efforts to educate children and adolescents on sexual and reproductive health and to enhance the accessibility of sexual and reproductive health services, including gynaecological and counseling services, in particular in rural areas and in communities where Roma and other disadvantaged and marginalized individuals or groups live.
  • "[…] ensure free primary education for all children and gradually reduce the costs of secondary education, e.g. through subsidies for textbooks, school kits and aids, and increased scholarships, in particular for disadvantaged and marginalized children, in accordance with the Committee's general comment no. 13 (1999); promote universal school attendance through intensified awareness raising campaigns for parents on the importance of education and their obligation to send their children, including girls, to school and catch-up classes and other special programmes to address the specific needs of less performing pupils; and conduct literacy campaigns for adults.
  • "[…] end the practice of segregating Roma and other minority and refugee children in separate schools, ensure, to the extent possible, adequate opportunities for minority children to receive instruction in or of their native languages by effectively monitoring the quality of minority language instruction, providing textbooks and increasing the number of teachers instructing in minority languages, and intensify its efforts to promote respect for cultural values of ethnic communities and the right of everyone to take part in cultural life in order to enhance understanding, tolerance and mutual respect among the different ethnic groups in the State party."

The full report can be viewed on the Internet at: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/docs/E.C.12.MKD.CO.1.pdf.

In the run-up to the Committee’s review, the ERRC and the NRC jointly submitted a parallel report, highlighting concerns in all areas noted above. The full report is available on the ERRC’s website in English and Macedonian at http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2138 and on the NRC’s website at: http://www.nationalromacentrum.org. ERRC/NRC action in Macedonia, including work toward the production of this submission, was supported in 2005 and 2006 by grants from the European Commission and the Swedish International Development Agency.

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