MINELRES: EU Commission criticises poor implementation of Roma rights in Serbia and Montenegro

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Tue Nov 15 20:24:26 2005

Original sender: Roma Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

EU Commission criticises poor implementation of Roma rights in Serbia
and Montenegro 

In its report on the Progress achieved by Serbia and Montenegro with
regards to the conditions set out in the Stabilisation and Association
Process and the European Partnership concluded in 2004 released on 9
November, the European Commission pinpoints the continuing
discrimination against Roma as well as the slow implementation of their

“Work has continued on the integration of the Roma, but the situation of
this community remains precarious. There is continuing discrimination
against Roma people, whose economic and social conditions are difficult
(the percentage of poverty among Roma is four to five times higher than
the national average). On the basis of the comprehensive Strategy for
Integration and Economic Empowerment of Roma, drafted by the State Union
Ministry for Human and Minority Rights (as part of the activities
concerning the Decade of Roma Inclusion, 2005-2015), a number action
plans in the areas of media, social protection, displaced persons, women
and returnees have been prepared by the relevant Serbian ministries and
are awaiting approval. In practice there is little cooperation between
this State Union Ministry and the Montenegrin authorities, which have
prepared a separate action plan for Montenegro. 

Implementation of Roma rights remains difficult: in both Republics there
is a lack of accurate statistics on their real number, and a significant
proportion of the Roma population do not possess basic personal
documents. In addition, prejudices against this minority group among the
majority population are strong and have in some cases been hampering
plans for their resettlement; similar problems have been impeding
activities relating to the education of Roma children. Resources for
implementation are scarce, and the governments rely heavily on donor
support, notably in the process of readmission. The situation of Roma
people who are internally displaced is particularly difficult in both

The Commission also urges Serbia and Montenegro to undertake “[f]urther
efforts … to resolve the problem of the readmission and integration of
Roma people.”

The situation of the IDPs was also addressed in a particular section of
the report.

“Concerning refugees, internally displaced persons (IDP) and minorities,
cooperation between the Republics and the State Union remains
problematic. Cooperation has increased with Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Croatia to facilitate returns. The dialogue with Pristina on the returns
issue has started. Discrimination against the Roma and - in Montenegro
against IDP – continues, though some legislative steps have been taken.”

In its Proposal for a Council decision on the Principles, Priorities and
Conditions contained in the European Partnership with Serbia and
Montenegro including Kosovo as defined by the United Nations Security
Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, the Commission recommends as a
short-terms priority to “[i]mplement the Strategies and Action Plans
relevant to the integration of Roma people including returnees.” As a
medium-term priority, the Commission requests Serbia and Montenegro to
“[e]nsure the inclusion of disabled or minority children in mainstream

As regards to Kosovo the Commission requested the Kosovo authorities to
“[c]reate a climate for sustainable multi-ethnicty and conducive to
returns. Ensure the respect, security, freedom of movement and
participation of all communities. Explicitly condemn all manifestations
of anti-minority sentiment. Vigorously prosecute all inter-ethnic

In terms of political requirements, the Commission recommends as a
short-term priority to “[i]ncrease minority representation in all
institutions and the civil service at municipal and central level.” and
to “[f]acilitate and encourage the return of refugees and displaced
persons from all communities and finalise the rehabilitation of damaged
and destroyed properties caused by the March 2004 events, including
historic and religious sites.”

Furthermore, the Commission urges the authorities to “[r]egularise
informal settlements. Find sustainable repatriation solutions for the
integration of the Roma minority communities that are living in
hazardous living conditions in camps and for IDP groups living in
informal centres.” It also request the “effective implementation of the
anti-discrimination law.”

Among the medium-term requirements the Commission requests the
“adop[tion] of legislation and establish[ment] and respect [of]
mechanisms for the protection of human and minority rights in line with
Council of Europe recommendations.” 

Furthermore “the viable existence of minority communities and their
non-discriminatory participation in society” should be assured. The
Commission asks for “concrete measures to ensure their safety, freedom
of movement as well as the equitable provision and access to public and
universal services.”

The Commission also recommends improved access to broadcast media for
all communities. 

Karin Waringo 

The full text of the Commission’s progress report is available at:

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