MINELRES: ERRC: Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Jun 1 19:47:05 2005


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


Council of Europe Minorities Monitoring Body Concerned at "Serious 
Problems" of Discrimination

Budapest, 25 May 2005. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes
the publication this week of the Council of Europe's Advisory Committee
on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ERRC particularly welcomes the
fact that the Committee has identified the very troubling situation of
Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a matter of the highest concern.

The Committee's opinion states, among other things, that "[s]erious
problems remain in the application of the Framework Convention with
regard to the Roma. Full and effective equality has not been secured for
Roma, who continue to be exposed to discrimination and face particular
difficulties in fields such as housing, health care, employment and
education."

With respect to housing, the Committee notes problems that Roma face
because of residing in settlements which have not been legalised, and
thus being vulnerable to forced eviction without the provision of
alternate accommodation. The Committee also expressed particular concern
at the fact that "Roma encounter serious obstacles to exercise their
right to return to their pre-war homes and to enjoy other related
property rights."

The Committee additionally notes problems posed by a lack of identity
documents, such as "birth certificates, personal identity documents,
documents related to State-provided health insurance and social welfare
as well as documents attesting citizenship." The Committee observes that
"limiting the scope of the term national minority to citizens only may
have a negative impact for example on the protection of those Roma or
other persons whose citizenship status following the break-up of the
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the conflict in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, has not been regularised."

The Committee also observes that Roma, including those who have been
displaced, who have been repatriated from abroad or who came as refugees
from Kosovo, "are in the most difficult situation and exposed to
widespread discrimination."

As to law enforcement, the Committee expresses concern about reports
indicating that "some law-enforcement officials have prejudices against
persons not belonging to the dominant constituent people, including
Roma." The Committee further criticises the attitude of the media
towards Roma, the access of Romani children to education, and Roma
representation within public authorities.

The Committee urges that "[a] comprehensive national strategy is needed
to improve their situation, drawing on the experience gained in the
recent elaboration of an Action Plan on their educational needs. In this
context, particular attention should be paid to ensuring improved
participation of Roma in public affairs." The Committee also observes
that the lack of reliable data constitute a matter of concern related to
the implementation of the Framework Convention.

The Advisory Committee received Bosnia and Herzegovina's initial report
under the Framework Convention in February 2004, and subsequently
visited the country in order to seek further information on the
implementation of the Convention. The Committee's opinion was made
public on May 11, 2005.

The full text of the Council of Europe's monitoring body's opinion is
available on the Internet at: 
http://www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/minorities/2._FRAMEWORK_CONVENTION_%
28MONITORING%
29/2._Monitoring_mechanism/4._Opinions_of_the_Advisory_Committee/1._Country_spec
ific_opinions/1._First_cycle/1st_OP_BiH.asp#TopOfPage



"The Non-Constituents: Rights Deprivation of Roma in Post-Genocide
Bosnia and Herzegovina", an ERRC Country Report published in February
2004, can be found at: 
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=112.
_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

_____________________________________________

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