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Concern of the International Renaissance Foundation over the Establishment of Anti-Roma Communities

29 January 2018

The International Renaissance Foundation makes efforts to build an open society in Ukraine based on respect for human rights and non-discrimination of minorities. We are extremely concerned over arising communities of hatred towards Roma national minority in Ukraine. The appeals of such communities urging cities’ residents to join civil security units and “fight Roma criminality” are very dangerous.

The International Renaissance Foundation is also very much concerned by the fact that the media, which are the tool of the open society, more often is being utilized with the purpose to destroy the open society built on the respect for fundamental human rights.

“Among other things, it is dangerous and unacceptable to engage media and social networks for the dissemination of messages and calls for ethnic-based violence. This kind of behavior nourishes negative stereotypes about the Romani people, creates a tense and hostile atmosphere in communities, degrades human dignity and provokes discrimination against the Roma national minority”, says Olga Zhmurko, director of the Roma program initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation.

We support the statement of our partners who protect the rights of the Roma minority in Ukraine, the Coalition of Roma NGOs in Ukraine “Strategy 2020” and urge representatives of state and local self-government bodies to step in and to prevent ethnic-based vigilantism and violence in all regions of Ukraine.

At the same time, it is an important public concern to make residents of local communes feel secure and protected. The International Renaissance Foundation supports the initiatives of local communities in developing non-discriminatory approaches to public security. We are ready for cooperation to find solutions which would respond to illegal actions without, however, violating human rights on the basis of ethnic origin.

International Renaissance Foundation

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Coalition of Roma Non-Government Organizations in Ukraine “Strategy 2020”

Statement on the Anti-Roma Sentiments 

The Coalition of Roma Non-Government Organizations in Ukraine “Strategy 2020”protects the rights of the Roma minority in Ukraine and monitors the implementation of the action plan of the Strategy for the protection and integration of the Roma national minority in the Ukrainian society striving to prevent discrimination against the Roma national minority and to protect human rights. In this statement, the members of the organization are addressing state authorities and local self-government bodies.

Due to the latest anti-Roma actions which occurred in January 2018 in Cherkasy region and Lviv, the members of the Coalition “Strategy 2020” are concerned over the massive dissemination of national, ethnic hostility, and hatred in the society. 

Negative attitude towards representatives of the Roma minority and tense relations with most citizens have resulted in a very dangerous situation in the society. Since 2016 – according to the monitoring data of the Coalition on the protection of the rights of national minorities in Ukraine – representatives of the Roma minority have been suffering violation of their rights more often than other citizens of Ukraine, which has to do with provoking national, ethnic hostility and hatred as well as humiliation of national honor and dignity.

For the last three years, the Coalition “Strategy 2020” has been making active social and legal efforts to prevent violation of human rights and anti-Roma sentiments in the regions of Ukraine. The Coalition also addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Cabinet of Ministers, the State Prosecutor’s Office, the Parliament and the President of Ukraine more than once urging them to take immediate action to protect the rights of the Roma people and to enforce the state policy aimed to counteract xenophobia, racism and intolerance. Statistic data collected by the Coalition’s experts since 2016 shows that 7 criminal proceedings have been started according to art. 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine following claims filed by representatives of the Roma people. However, none of these proceedings which are now investigated by the National Police of Ukraine has been passed to the court yet, while the State Prosecutor’s Office is making illegal attempts to close these proceedings or to classify the respective crimes in a different way. Such practices are especially painful for representatives of the Roma minority in Zakarpattia, Odesa, Kharkiv and Lviv regions.

The rights of the Roma minority on receiving identity documents confirming the citizenship of Ukraine are steadily violated; the right of Roma children on proper education is also subject to constant violations.

That is why, the Coalition of Roma Non-Government Organizations in Ukraine “Strategy 2020” will continue its efforts to protect the rights of national minorities in Ukraine in accordance with the law of Ukraine and will be opposing violence and violation of human rights.

We are urging the state authorities to take immediate steps to prevent anti-Roma sentiments and disgraceful events in various regions of Ukraine, to properly finalize the criminal proceedings based on the claims of representatives of the Roma minority about the abuse of their rights in line with the law of Ukraine and international standards regarding legal and social protection and access to education, as well as development of practical mechanisms for the effective implementation of the rights of national minorities in active cooperation with Roma communities and legislative and executive bodies.

Head of the Coalition of Roma Non-Government Organizations in Ukraine “Strategy 2020”, 

Volodymyr Kondur

 

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