Roma in Ukraine – A time for action: priorities and pathways for an effective integration policy
Roma in Ukraine have a long history of discrimination that, despite some progress in recent years, continues to this day. Now more than ever is the time to act. The current Roma Integration Strategy for Ukraine ends in 2020 and despite positive intentions the violent anti-Roma attacks of 2018 have only highlighted the serious vulnerability and marginalisation of many Roma in Ukraine.
While poverty, isolation and high levels of illiteracy contribute to their destitution, discrimination against Roma at every level of society, including among police, prosecutors and officials, also plays an important part in perpetuating their secondary status. This is illustrated by the limited representation of Roma in public life in Ukraine and the increasing prevalence of hate speech and violence by far-right groups – attacks enabled in large part by the impunity that many perpetrators appear to enjoy.
While Ukraine has taken a number of steps to amend its legislation in line with international standards and publicly stated its commitment to promoting the inclusion of Roma and other minorities, in practice much of these promises remain unrealized. The ability of the Ukrainian government to achieve these ambitions in future will therefore provide an important gauge on the broader transition of the country to human rights, democracy and social progress.