Att : members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
Re : Reports on the Rights of Roma Children in Russia
Geneva, 8 June 2005
Dear Madam, Dear Sir
In view of the examination of Russia by the Committee on the Rights of Child, FIDH and Memorial would like to submit to your attention two reports dealing with the situation of Roma children in Russia :
— a fact-finding mission report of November 2004, » The Roma of Russia: the subject of multiple forms of discrimination (above referred to as Russian Roma Report)
— a report on the violations of the Rights of Roma Children in the Russian Federation prepared for the CRC (above referred to as Roma children Note), prepared in May-June 2005
These two reports are joint reports by FIDH and the Northwest Center for the Legal and Social Protection of Roma (which is associated with Saint Petersburg Memorial). They deal with the situation of Russka Roma and Kotliary, minorities established in Russia for thousands of year, as well as with the situation of Madiary, Roma from Ukraine (Carpaths) and Lyulya (from Central Asia) who live in Russia in very precarious conditions, most of the time illegally.
On the basis of these reports FIDH and Memorial would like especially to stress the following violations of the rights of child:
Overall violation of the principle of non-discrimination (art 2) is linked with a widespread racism, which is present not only among society, but also in State administrations. There are numerous cases of racist violence, and the police does not protect Roma, but on the contrary Roma are victims of police violence (see part II of Russian Roma report). Children themselves are victims of racist and police violence (see part I of Roma Children note) and of an overall discrimination in access to education, health services. (see part II and IV of Roma Children note).
Civil rights and freedom
In respect to name and nationality (art7), Roma face numerous problems of registration of their children after birth, which may lead to discrimination in access to school, health services, and even to deprivation of parental rights (see part III-1 and IV of Russian Roma report)
Family environment and alternative care
In terms of parental responsibilities (art 18 para 1-2), there is a lack of proper assistance from state to Roma parents in performing their child-rearing responsibilities. Most importantly, Roma children may be arbitrarily separated from their parents. Neither placement nor adoptions (art 21) respect the best interests of the Child (art 3) (see part III of Roma Children note and part IV of the Russian Roma Report)
Basic health and welfare
Roma children face discrimination in access to health and health services (art 24) (see part IV of Roma Children note) but for Roma in illegal situation, this access is restricted only to emergency treatments (see part III-4 of Russian Roma report) and does not allow proper follow up, including for pregnant women.
Social allowances are clearly insufficient to allow families with low income to ensure satisfactory standard of living (art 27 par 1-3) to their children. Moreover, Roma face discriminations in access to work and housing (see part III – 2 and III-3 of Russian Roma report).
Education, leisure and cultural activities
Discrimination in access to education (art 28) (primary, secondary and high school) is worsened by the fact that the State does not properly fight against possible indifference to school obligations of Roma parents (see part III-5 of Russian Roma report and part II of Roma Children note).
Special protection measures
For children in situations of exploitation, including child labour (art 32), it must be said that no sufficient and adequate measures are taken to protect children involved in begging (see part III of Roma Children Note).
In view of this situation, FIDH and Memorial would like to stress the following recommendations to the Russian Federation :
— to ensure that all children have the same access to schooling, with no discrimination based on national or social origin, to reaffirm the role of schools as places of social and cultural mixing;
— to adopt federal anti-discrimination legislation and to draw up a federal law elevating to the status of criminal offence racist actions in general;
— to fight against discrimination by means of preventative measures, punishment and aid to victims;
— to organise educational and awareness programmes for police employees and those responsible for enforcing the law, as well as for all members of State administrations, educational and health system;
— to improve the help available to women, to promote women’s shelter and aid for victims of domestic violence
We hope this reports may be of interest to you and thank you for your attention
FIDH – Memorial
Contact persons :
Alexandra Koulaeva, Program officer Eastern Europe-Central Asia
Tel : 00 33 1 43 55 25 18, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amandine Regamey, FIDH permanent delegate to the UN
Tel : 00 41 22 700 12 88, email@example.com