MINELRES: Ukraine: UN Racism Committee Hears Testimony on Oppression of Roma

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Aug 12 09:32:43 2006


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


ERRC Provides Documentation on Roma Rights in Ukraine to United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination


Geneva, Budapest, 11 August 2006.       
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has alerted the United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to the
serious human rights situation of Roma in Ukraine. The UN body today
reviews Ukraine’s compliance with international law banning racial
discrimination.

The ERRC submitted detailed documentation concerning the human rights
situation of Roma in Ukraine, to assist the Committee in its review. The
ERRC submission notes a number of problematic areas of law, policy and
practice. It also provides a number of recommendations to the Committee.

Ukraine last went before the Committee in 2001. Concerns raised by the
CERD about the situation of Roma in Ukraine either been ignored or
addressed to no tangible effect in the five years since then.

According to the official report provided to the CERD Committee by the
government of Ukraine, “racial discrimination in all its forms has been
eliminated in Ukraine and the equality of every person before the law
has been secured, without distinction based on race, skin colour or
national or ethnic origin.” The government blames the Roma themselves
for the sub-standard living conditions in which many live, as well as
for the lack of opportunities for economic or social advancement faced
by many in Ukraine. “In many cases,” the Government report states, “we
face outrageous facts of non-observation by the Roma of the basic rules
of conduct, violations of community life’s laws… People do not know
their rights, and, what is more surprising, even do not try to know
them.” The Government further told the CERD Committee that Romani
parents “do not aspire to provide their children with education, even
with an elementary one.” The Ukrainian government contends that
“accusations that Roma are deprived of their civil rights, practically,
do not have any grounds”.

The ERRC written submission provided to the UN Committee in advance of
today's hearing aims to counter the distorted view of matters presented
by the Ukrainian government. The material presented by the ERRC includes
evidence of racially discriminatory practices against Roma in a number
of sectors of society in Ukraine.  Of 
particular concern is the violence many have suffered at the hands of
authorities and/or their non-Romani neighbours; a systemic lack of
access to social services, employment and education; and widespread hate
speech in the media.

The absence of any comprehensive anti-discrimination law in Ukraine
makes it virtually impossible for victims of discrimination in Ukraine
to use the law to secure justice.

The ERRC submission provides detailed description of particular abuses
including:
* The repeated racially-motivated detention for fingerprinting and
databasing en masse, often carried out in the middle of the night, of
large groups of Romani men in certain areas, absent any particular
allegations of crimes;
* The arson deaths of family members of Jurij Fedorchenko in 2002,
apparently by police officers, for failing to pay a bribe, as well as
the continuing failure by Ukrainian authorities to provide justice in
that case and a number of other extreme cases of violent abuse;
* The enforced long-term homelessness of Ms. Yevgenia Kutsenko in the
town of Kremenchug, as well as of many other Romani Ukrainians.
* The racial segregation of Romani children at the high school in the
village of Nyerubayskoye, Odesa oblast, and their schooling in a
separate building under worse conditions and with worse instructors than
their non-Romani peers.
* The systemic lack of personal documents among Roma in Ukraine,
precluding them from access to a range of fundamental human rights,
including such basic rights as the right to vote.

The ERRC has urged the CERD Committee to undertake any and all measures
available to it to begin to bring about change for Roma in Ukraine.

The ERRC has been documenting the human rights situation of Roma in
Ukraine since 1996, and has maintained a continuous presence in Ukraine
since 2004. ERRC activities in Ukraine are currently supported by the
European Commission.

The full text of the ERRC written submission to the UN CERD, is
available at: 
http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/ngos/ERRC.doc

The Ukrainian government’s report to the UN CERD is available at:
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G06/419/96/PDF/G0641996.pdf?OpenElement

For further information, please contact 
Ms. Zemfira Kondur at: E-mail: zola.kondur@errc.org ; 
ssidd@skif.com.ua ; tel. +380973395974, +380672497119

_____________________________________________

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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