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HRC40 – Ukraine: MRG and Chirikli call for respect for Roma rights

20 March 2019

UN Human Rights Council

40th session

Oral Update of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights Ukraine – item 10

Thank you Mister President,

Last year, MRG expressed its concern at the outbreak of violent and sometime fatal assaults on Roma communities in Ukraine, carried out be far-right militias. We regret that, to date, no one has been charged with these crimes.

This impunity continues from the failure to prosecute public officials involved in similar violent and illegal attacks and expulsions of Roma populations, in 2016 and 2017. Despite supportive statements by Ukraine authorities, the failure to hold those responsible accountable continues to leave Roma populations with a sentiment of fear and insecurity.

Looking behind the attacks, we can see evidence of the vulnerability experienced by large numbers of Roma living in Ukraine, as a result of poverty, exclusion and institutional failures in the area of Roma integration. We have commended Ukraine for the adoption of the National Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2020 Strategy for Roma Integration, along with an openness to engage with civil society organizations. However, we regret that the Plan was adopted without some of the crucial means that would have allowed its successful implementation: no concrete indicators, lack of proper de-centralisation in the implementation of the Plan, no capacity-building of regional and local authorities, and a lack of financial resources.

Mister President,

In part because of these limitations, the 2020 Strategy cannot be said to have been a success. It is now crucial that Ukraine national authorities react, by fully engaging with civil society, communities and local authorities, in developing a more effective strategy for post 2020.

To that effect, MRG and the Roma Women Fund Chirikli recently authored a report, due to be published in May. This report highlights four key issues that should be central to the post-2020 Roma strategy. Firstly, Ukraine needs to address the lack of personal documents, civil registration and accurate census data.

Secondly, Ukraine must secure access to education, including vocational training, and put an end to de facto practices of classroom segregation.

Thirdly, the right to adequate housing, including recognition and restitution of property, is key to ensuring an adequate standard of living to the Roma population.

Lastly, the Ukrainian government must adopt policies aiming at improving the access of Roma to employment and decent work, in particular for Roma women. We also stress that these policies cannot be successful if the government does not vigorously address the entrenched culture of anti-gypsyism, pervasive amongst both the public and private sectors.

I thank you.