MINELRES: Roma Rights at UN Minorities Group

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Aug 17 09:51:24 2006

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

NGOs Testify at the United Nations Working Group on Minorities

14 August 2006, Budapest. The Bulgarian Centre for Interethnic Dialog
and Tolerance Amalipe (CIDTA), the Budapest-based European Roma Rights
Centre (ERRC), the Macedonian HCAR Mesecina and Roma Democratic
Development Association (RDDA) have testified before the United Nations
Working Group on Minorities (WGM), which held its Twelfth Session
between 8-11 August 2006, in Geneva. The groups presented material on
human rights violations of Roma and formulated recommendations for the
respective governments.

The representative of CIDTA expressed concerns about the following
issues: the existence of hate speech and anti-Romani propaganda in the
Bulgarian media; the widespread discrimination against and
marginalization of Roma in Bulgaria; the lack of employment, quality
education and proper living conditions for Roma; the lack of 
respect towards Romani culture; under-representation of Roma at various
levels of government; and the lack of adequate and effective policies
for the integration of Roma. The CIDTA emphasized that Roma issues can
only be 
effectively addressed if the specific needs and interests of various
Roma groups are taken into consideration and the right of participation
in political life is ensured for all Romani sub-groups.

In a response, the representative of the Bulgarian government stated
that hate speech and racist propaganda are prohibited by the law and the
government is monitoring the realization of freedom of speech in media.
He said that Bulgarian Roma do not suffer discrimination, but rather
privilege, due to opportunities to enjoy 
special care and advantages only available for them. He said that
multicultural education is a priority for the Bulgarian government, and
that the government has a clear policy for the integration of Roma. The
representative presented various efforts undertaken by the Bulgarian
government in the fields of unemployment, education, housing conditions,
health care and culture for the integration of Roma.

The representative of the ERRC expressed concerns about the lack of
adequate implementation of laws ensuring the human rights of Roma in
Hungary, and recommended the following:
* The Hungarian Government should improve the quality and extent of
statistical data on the situation of Roma in sectoral fields key for
social inclusion;
* Entities with more than 50 employees should adopt an Equal Chances
Plan for Roma. Such plans are obligatory by law in Hungary, but there is
widespread non-observance of this obligation by these institutions;
* A monitoring system of the budgets and expenditures of municipalities
should be introduced in order to ensure that the money sought for
integration and other educational purposes is spent on the education of
children and is not spent on unrelated matters;
* Compulsory primary and secondary school education should include the
promotion of human rights, tolerance, pluralism, non-discrimination,
effective participation and the culture and history of Roma;
* Adequate programmes should be adopted by the Hungarian government in
order to eliminate extreme poverty among Roma and to ensure access to
basic services by Romani households.

In response, the representative of the Hungarian government admitted
that there is still a lot to do in the field of Roma rights, but added
that there have been many improvements that prove the real commitment of
the Hungarian Government to assist the social integration of Roma. The
representative of the Government welcomed the fact that 300 new Roma
Self-Governments will be elected in this year's local election. Roma
Self-Governments are advisory bodies to the local administration in
Hungary. She mentioned the efforts being undertaken to improve the
education of Roma, and noted the system of available financial support
by the Hungarian Ministry of Economy and Transportation for small- and
medium-size Roma enterprises. She also emphasised that Hungary has sent
two Roma to the European Parliament.

Since 2003, the Macedonian RDDA has appeared three times before the UN
Working Group on Minorities, presenting in particular matters concerning
the ill-treatment of Roma in Macedonia by public officials. This year,
RDDA and HCAR reported on the case of the seventeen-year-old Trajan
Bekirov, who was last seen alive after Macedonian police "ALFI" units
chased him and his friend, Orhan Isemi, on 11 May 2006. His body was
discovered on 28 May 2006 in the river Vardar near the village of
Tubarevo. Based on an autopsy carried out by the Institute of Juridical
Medicine and Criminal Autopsy and on the basis of the investigation by
the Ministry of Interior's Sector on Internal Control and Professional
Standards, government representatives announced 
that police actions were appropriate. However, Trajan's parents hired an
independent forensic expert for a second autopsy which was carried out
five days after the first one. As a result, unlike the first
examination, the doctor raised several issues according to which the
police could be found responsible for inappropriate 
action resulting in the death of Trajan Bekirov. Based on this report,
the ombudsperson initiated further investigation. However, the public
prosecutor announced last week that the investigation will not be
pursued further in the matter. (for further details of the case, see the
letter of ERRC and the National Roma Centrum sent to Dr. Vlado
Buckovski, Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia 
RDDA and HCAR recommend measures including:
* An independent and objective investigation and fair court procedure,
and imposition of sanctions on the perpetrators;
* Revision of legislation regarding police forces;
* Imposition of sanctions on all public servants responsible for the
ill-treatment of citizens;
* Adoption of an effective and independent control system on police,
judiciary and other public services.

In its response, the Macedonian Government emphasized that the case of
Mr. Bekirov is an individual case and probably it is therefore not
appropriate as a subject of interest for the UN Working Group on
Minorities. He expressed that the government completely rejects
statements by the members of the Macedonian NGOs suggesting 
that the special police unit might be influenced by any racist attitudes
toward the members of the Romani ethnic community. The government
representative rejected allegations that Roma in Macedonia suffer
discrimination in the fields of education or employment. He went on to
explain efforts undertaken by the Macedonian Government for the
integration of Roma.

The statements of the three NGOs as well as the response of the
Hungarian and Macedonian Government are available at 

For more information, please contact dr. Rita Izsák, 
ERRC Mandate and Communication Officer at 
+36-1-413-2200 or rita.izsak@errc.org

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

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

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


The European Roma Rights Centre is dependent upon the generosity of
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