April 8, 2016

International Roma Day

The International Roma Day is commemorated every year on the 8th of April. This commemoration contributes to raising awareness and reminds of the long-lasting struggle for better and more dignified life for this group of people. The Roma are the most vulnerable ethnic community in Macedonia, the community which faces discrimination in almost every sphere of social interaction.

While celebrating today’s International Roma Day, we want to accentuate our concern with the failure to implement the activities of the current Strategy for Roma in the Republic of Macedonia (2014-2020). We appeal to the state to turn the declarative efforts for improvement of the status of the Roma into tangible action plans and affirmative measures for true improvement of the status and for integration of the Roma in all social spheres. In this regard, taking in consideration the specific socio-economic living conditions of most members of the Roma community, as well as the social risks they are facing, a matter of significant concern remains the fact that the Strategy for Roma in the Republic of Macedonia does not envisage social protection as separate strategic action sphere. This fact suggests that there is urgent need to revise the Strategy.

Considering that systematic discrimination against the Roma is still prevalent, especially when it comes to police officers’ dealings with the Roma at border crossings, inaccessibility of health protection and gynecological services to Roma women, and segregation of Roma children, we appeal to the state to undertake active measures for prevention of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and belonging to marginalized group.

We are especially concerned about the systematic segregation of Roma children within the frames of the educational process, who, without no categorization whatsoever, are sent to attend special schools for children with intellectual disability, or are else allotted to special classes within regular schools, instead of being included and integrated into the regular ones.

The Helsinki Committee continues to work on protection and improvement of rights and freedoms of the members of Roma community through a wide range of activities, most directly through the implementation of the “Monitoring and Reporting on Violation of Roma Rights” project, financed by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. The project activities are going to be carried out with cooperation of the partner organizations in Macedonia: Roma SOS from Prilep, Romano Avazi from Tetovo, ROZM Daya from Kumanovo, CRRZ “Bair light” from Bitola, KHAM from Delchevo, and Umbrella from Skopje. The goal of the project is to strengthen the capacities of local Roma civil organizations in the area of documenting, monitoring and reporting cases of violation of rights of the Roma. The project is expected to be fully implemented by the end of November 2016.

At the end, we would like to congratulate this day to all members of the Roma ethnic community, with wishes for improvement of their socio-economic position and full integration into all social spheres.