Human rights are being violated against the Roma population of Bosnia and Herzegovina – ranging from the right to life to the right to elect and be elected into government.
From the 8th until the 12th of April 1971 the first Roma Congress was held in London and was attended by representatives of Roma communities from 14 countries around the world.
The joint interests of the Roma population around the world were for the first time presented to the public, including their right to equality before the law, the right to their own language, culture and tradition, the fight against discrimination and racism and their right to the status of a national minority. The Declaration on the Rights of Roma was signed, but sadly it has never applied to B&H.
According to research conducted by the Society for threatened Peoples of B&H, the situation faced by Roma in B&H is the worst in the region. Almost all forms of human rights are being violated and the outbreak of civil war only intensified the discrimination against the Roma population.
According to the research, 70% of the Roma population in B&H can not secure livelihood without social assistance, 90% have no health care, 60% of Roma are illiterate and 80% don’t have any qualifications or training.
Ahead of 8 April, International Roma Day, the BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Delegation of the European Union to BiH/EU Special Representative in BiH, UNICEF, Save the Children and World Vision called for greater efforts from all sides to end exclusion of Roma in BiH. Access to adequate housing, employment, education, health, social services and equal political participation remain far out of reach for the vast majority of Roma population in BiH.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina is determined to continue with the implementation of Roma action plans, and we will work to see greater cooperation with local communities to improve the status of Roma population,” Damir Ljubić, BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees said. “The BiH Council of Ministers is working with authorities at all levels to create inclusive environments for Roma. BiH will preside over the Roma Inclusion Decade as of 1 July 2014, and the Ministry will actively cooperate with the Roma civil society within this framework in order to advance the rights of Roma in BiH”.
“There is still much to be done to combat long standing discrimination against Roma and to address urgent human rights issues, such as provision of adequate housing,” said Fletcher M. Burton, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH.
Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative, Ambassador Peter Sorensen said: “Roma still face unacceptable levels of discrimination in society. There are still many challenges that lie ahead – challenges we all have a responsibility to help resolve. The EU is doing its part. We currently have a project ongoing worth 2.5 million EUR. It will, among other things, enable housing for 150 families and 80 economic grants. More than 1 300 people will directly benefit from it.”
“The social inclusion of Roma should start from birth: all Roma children have to be registered, which may require ensuring free baby birth in all health institutions,” said Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative in BiH.