Lines of activity

Human Rights Reports and Materials

Prepared reports:

-«The Roma in Russia: at the crossroads of all forms of discrimination» (2004 jointly with FIDH)

-«Breaches of Human Rights in relation to Roma children in Russia» ( 2005 jointly with FIDH for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child)

-«Forced evictions and the Right to Housing of Roma in Russia» (2008 jointly with FIDH for the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination)

-The NGOs’ Alternative Report: «On the adherence of the Russian Federation to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination» (2008 in collaboration with Russian NGOs for the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination)

-«Discrimination and Violation of Roma Children Rights in Schools of Russian Federation» (2009)

Reports prepared by ADC «Memorial» are given to: the authorities concerned with human rights in Russia, the Council for the Rights of the Human under the auspices of the President of Russia, the Commission for Human Rights under the auspices of the governor of St. Petersburg, and international organizations: UN, CoE (Council of Europe), ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights), OSCE (The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

The protection of Children Rights

The protection of children’s rights has become an important focus of ADC «Memorial’s» work, including protecting those at risk of discrimination at school. In cooperation with the international network «Save the Children» ADC «Memorial» is running a project to overcome the segregation of Roma children in Russian schools. These children are often segregated from other children at school and are taught in so-called «Roma classes», or even in an entirely separate school building. This segregation is not justified on a pedagogical level as no special program exists for the education of Roma children. This means that the separate teaching is not carried out due to medical or educational reasons, but that the children are divided purely on ethnic grounds and the fact that many of the children do not know Russian or speak it badly. In Roma classes, children of varying ages and educational experience are often placed in the same class, that they will stay in year after year.

The educational level of Roma children in such classes, or even in special Roma schools, is often worse than that of other children. Often, parents do not have the financial resources to pay for transport to school, or to pay for textbooks and uniforms. All these factors contribute to the fact that the majority of Roma children fall out of the education system after elementary school.

As yet, there is no specific teaching method for the education of these children, no special primary reading books or teaching aids. This situation conflicts with a number of international norms, in particular with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which recommends that children be taught in their mother tongue at least at elementary schools.

Work is carried out at fifteen schools in St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Province. These schools contain a lot of children from families of ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees. ADC «Memorial’s» program includes projects to help integrate the children into the school environment. Particular attention is given to providing psychological support for children who suffer discrimination. Professional psychologists trained in conflict counselling help children to overcome problems of adaptation and socialising in the often hostile child environment. Teachers are advised on how to prevent and deal with conflict and crisis situations at schools. Student volunteers, who come to ADC «Memorial» from various countries, work in a number of schools. Over an eight year period the reach of the project has expanded from a single school in 2001 to 20 schools in 2008.

Human Rights Education

ADC «Memorial» holds regular seminars and teaching sessions aimed at representatives of national minorities, in addition to round table discussions participated in by representatives of the relevant authorities.

One of ADC «Memorial’s» projects is the support for Roma students to obtain High Education. Those students who pass the selection procedure receive a scholarship of the “Roma Education Fund” and start to participate in seminars and yearly conferences.

Legal work of ADC «Memorial»

The legal support that is given within the framework of ADC «Memorial» includes:

-Organizing litigation in defence of Roma housing, with the aim of preventing eviction and supporting victims of eviction.

-Protection of Roma children’s right of access to school education and overcoming segregation in schools.

-Assistance in obtaining personal documents, permitting to benefit from various social rights.

-Assistance to the victims of Police and Nazi violence.

Since 2007, ADC Memorial has been developing the large project «Legal assistance for Kelderari Roma settlements in Russia». Demolitions of Roma villages have been prevented in Yaroslavl and Tyumen. The demolition of a village in Kaliningrad became a precedent for proving ethnic discrimination, and the matter was considered in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In the course of the project, we have seen successful development in terms of our cooperation with the international organizations UN, OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), and Amnesty International.

ADC «Memorial» actively cooperates with the European Court of Human Rights. In a joint venture with the international organization, Justice Initiative, the case «Bogdanavichus and others vs. Russia», regarding the unlawful demolition of Roma houses in the Kanlingrad Province, was prepared and presented to the European court. Work is being carried out under the leadership of ADC «Memorial» on the exhaustion of domestic means of judicial protection by the applicants who have not yet reached Strasbourg. This work is necessary before the case can be handled by the European Court. The case of two murders, which resulted from Police actions, was submitted to the ERRC (European Roma Rights Centre) in conjunction with Memorial and is already being considered by the European Court.

The Roma of the Leningrad Province are often in need of legal aid in order to obtain personal documents, medical insurance and social benefits. ADC Memorial provides them with legal assistance on family, citizenship and other matters.

In the time that ADC “Memorial’s» legal program has operated, many Roma parents have received assistance on the registration of paternity, maternity and adoption. Former residents of the CIS republics – long time inhabitants of the Province- were assisted in obtaining Russian citizenship. Disabled people and pensioners were assisted in receiving documents which enabled them to access various benefits and also register for pensions and other services.

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