April 8, 2015

The state discriminates Roma like never before

On the occasion of commemorating the International Roma Day, the Helsinki Committee wishes to once again remind the public of the need to underline the economic and social problems which confront the Roma community in our country.

At the same time, the Helsinki Committee points out that the conditions for the Roma in the Republic of Macedonia have never been worse, especially given the fact of mass discrimination of this ethnic community taking place on the border crossings, which is instigated by the Ministry of Interior. For quite a while now the public has been aware of violations of the Roma’s constitutionally guaranteed right to leave the country, which include racial profiling executed by police officers. The Roma are being degraded, humiliated and discriminated like never before, not only at border crossings, but also while attempting to access the institutions which provide social and health care, and in realizing their right to basic living and housing conditions, as well as their right to acquire citizenship and personal documentation. The decades-long segregation of Roma children within the educational system is still prevalent. They often attend schools for intellectually impaired children, instead of being integrated into regular education.

Especially worrisome are the leaked conversations of high state officials who address the Roma as ‘Gypsies’, and indicate abuse of the Roma and their voting rights during the electoral processes. Such conversations are further confirmation of the discriminatory attitude of the authorities toward this community, taking in consideration the prevalent disregard of their problems and the lack of will to improve their status in the society.

In this regard we want to remind the public of the Government ‘s obligation to respect the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, which postulates as fundamental value the basic freedoms and rights of a human being and a citizen, those rights and freedoms acknowledged by international law and embedded in the Constitution, where it is stated that the citizens are equal regardless of the color of their skin and the social background, while the person’s moral integrity is inviolable. The European Convention on Protection of Human Rights, as a part of our legal frame, also forbids discrimination on the basis of the color of the skin and ethnic background. On these accounts, the state must ensure to all citizens equal access to the rights stipulated in the Convention.

The Helsinki Committee uses this opportunity to congratulate their International Day to all persons belonging to the Roma ethnic community in the Republic of Macedonia, and to encourage them at the same time to persist in the struggle for their rights, as well as in the struggle for improvement of their sub-standard social status and full integration in the society.