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European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)

August 27, 2006.

    Geneva, Budapest, 11 August 2006. The
    > European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has alerted
    > the United Nations Committee on the Elimination
    > of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to the serious
    > human rights situation of Roma in Ukraine. The UN
    > body today reviews Ukraine's compliance with
    > international law banning racial discrimination.
    > The ERRC submitted detailed documentation
    > concerning the human rights situation of Roma in
    > Ukraine, to assist the Committee in its review.
    > The ERRC submission notes a number of problematic
    > areas of law, policy and practice. It also
    > provides a number of recommendations to the Committee.
    > Ukraine last went before the Committee in 2001.
    > Concerns raised by the CERD about the situation
    > of Roma in Ukraine either been ignored or
    > addressed to no tangible effect in the five years since then.
    > According to the official report provided to the
    > CERD Committee by the government of Ukraine,
    > "racial discrimination in all its forms has been
    > eliminated in Ukraine and the equality of every
    > person before the law has been secured, without
    > distinction based on race, skin colour or
    > national or ethnic origin." The government blames
    > the Roma themselves for the sub-standard living
    > conditions in which many live, as well as for the
    > lack of opportunities for economic or social
    > advancement faced by many in Ukraine. "In many
    > cases," the Government report states, "we face
    > outrageous facts of non-observation by the Roma
    > of the basic rules of conduct, violations of
    > community life's laws... People do not know their
    > rights, and, what is more surprising, even do not
    > try to know them." The Government further told
    > the CERD Committee that Romani parents "do not
    > aspire to provide their children with education,
    > even with an elementary one." The Ukrainian
    > government contends that "accusations that Roma
    > are deprived of their civil rights, practically, do not have any
    > grounds".
    > The ERRC written submission provided to the UN
    > Committee in advance of today's hearing aims to
    > counter the distorted view of matters presented
    > by the Ukrainian government. The material
    > presented by the ERRC includes evidence of
    > racially discriminatory practices against Roma in
    > a number of sectors of society in Ukraine. Of
    > particular concern is the violence many have
    > suffered at the hands of authorities and/or their
    > non-Romani neighbours; a systemic lack of access
    > to social services, employment and education; and
    > widespread hate speech in the media.
    > The absence of any comprehensive
    > anti-discrimination law in Ukraine makes it
    > virtually impossible for victims of
    > discrimination in Ukraine to use the law to secure justice.
    > The ERRC submission provides detailed description
    > of particular abuses including:
    > * The repeated racially-motivated detention
    > for fingerprinting and databasing en masse, often
    > carried out in the middle of the night, of large
    > groups of Romani men in certain areas, absent any
    > particular allegations of crimes;
    > * The arson deaths of family members of
    > Jurij Fedorchenko in 2002, apparently by police
    > officers, for failing to pay a bribe, as well as
    > the continuing failure by Ukrainian authorities
    > to provide justice in that case and a number of
    > other extreme cases of violent abuse;
    > * The enforced long-term homelessness of
    > Ms. Yevgenia Kutsenko in the town of Kremenchug,
    > as well as of many other Romani Ukrainians.
    > * The racial segregation of Romani children
    > at the high school in the village of
    > Nyerubayskoye, Odesa oblast, and their schooling
    > in a separate building under worse conditions and
    > with worse instructors than their non-Romani peers.
    > * The systemic lack of personal documents
    > among Roma in Ukraine, precluding them from
    > access to a range of fundamental human rights,
    > including such basic rights as the right to vote.
    > The ERRC has urged the CERD Committee to
    > undertake any and all measures available to it to
    > begin to bring about change for Roma in Ukraine.
    > The ERRC has been documenting the human rights
    > situation of Roma in Ukraine since 1996, and has
    > maintained a continuous presence in Ukraine since
    > 2004. ERRC activities in Ukraine are currently
    > supported by the European Commission.
    > The full text of the ERRC written submission to
    > the UN CERD, is available at:
    > http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/ngos/ERRC.doc
    > The Ukrainian government's report to the UN CERD is available at:
    > http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G06/419/96/PDF/G0641996.pdf?OpenE
    > lement
    > For further information, please contact Ms.
    > Zemfira Kondur at: E-mail: zola.kondur@errc.org ;
    > ssidd@skif.com.ua ; tel. +380973395974, +380672497119
    > _____________________________________________
    > The European Roma Rights Centre is an
    > international public interest law organisation
    > which monitors the rights of Roma and provides
    > legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For
    > more information about the European Roma Rights
    > Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at http://www.errc.org.
    > European Roma Rights Centre
    > 1386 Budapest 62
    > P.O. Box 906/93
    > Hungary
    > Phone: +36 1 4132200
    > Fax: +36 1 4132201

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