ADC Memorial took part in the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organized every year by the OSCE. Experts from ADC Memorial disseminated the report “Structural discrimination against Roma in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” and made a statement during the working session dedicated to Roma rights (“Tolerance and non-discrimination, including Roma and Sinti issues, including implementation of the OSCE Action Plan on Improving the situation of Roma and Sinti”).
Previously, in April 2018, the report was presented during the Roma week held in Brussels under the patronage of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, Council of Europe and City of Brussels. It was the first time that an NGO representing the rights of Roma people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia co-organized the event. ADC Memorial attended events and high-level discussions organized in the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee and took this opportunity to present the situation of Roma people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The situation of Roma communities in post-Soviet countries is diverse but remains difficult: problems, which are rooted in the ethnic policies of the USSR have not yet been overcome and the lack of consistent measures from national authorities to overcome these problems makes it impossible for Roma people to break this vicious circle of discrimination and fully enjoy their rights.
Today, most Roma children do not receive quality education or are even denied their right to education. Many schools practice segregation of Roma children, when the latter are being kept in separate classes and even schools. Experts of ADC Memorial documented this practice in Russia, in some schools in Ukraine and Moldova, in Central Asia. As a result, most Roma children get only primary school education at best and cannot attend secondary and high school later, while universities also remain out of their reach. Next step of discrimination can be seen in the employment (illustrated with the examples from Belarus and Moldova). Further, social problems and marginalization take place. Violations of the rights of Roma to adequate housing are illustrated with examples of Russia. Instead of systematically solving the problem of legalizing housing and land allotments, as well as providing Roma settlements with water, electricity and gas supply lines, the Russian authorities have resumed the practice of demolishing houses in Roma settlements. Dozens of families with children found themselves on the street, with no alternative housing provided to them. These actions often are caused and/or accompanied with racist statements by representatives of authorities.
The rights and interests of Roma communities in the countries of Southern Caucasus and Central Asia are also not taken into account by the respective state authorities. Armenian authorities ignore and deny the very existence of the local ethnic group of Romani origin (Bosha), this denial of cultural peculiarities and the problems of this ethnic minority led to almost complete assimilation of Bosha, but xenophobia and prejudices towards members of this ethnic group persist. Tajikistan authorities deny any discrimination against the locals Roma ethnic groups of Jugi and Mugat, while members of this minority are not provided with personal identity documents, they do not receive proper schooling and lose their homes as a result of demolitions and evictions.
At the OSCE, ADC Memorial also expressed its deep concern about the recent outrageous pogroms that took place recently in Russia and Ukraine that are other outrageous examples of the vulnerability of Roma people. Those unacceptable attacks on Roma showed the authorities’ failure to firmly respond to these incidents created an atmosphere of impunity among the population. These tragic events are a direct consequence of the authorities’ lack of desire to deal with the problems of the Roma people, and consequently, to help them implement their rights. Governments should take consistent measures to prevent those pogroms. Consistent measures are also required to improve the situation of the Roma population in Eastern Europe and Central Asia at both regional and local levels. The authorities of these countries should adopt and implement action plans to address the real problems of Roma population (housing, education, protection from violence), while also providing targeted financing and constant monitoring of the effectiveness of their implementation.