Press release - 484(2010)
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
Strasbourg, 15.06.2010 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published a new report on “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, acknowledged that there had been improvements, but also expressed concern about the strong division of society along ethnic lines and the difficult situation of the Roma.
As regards positive developments, changes to the Criminal Code have made a significant step towards consolidating the legal framework to combat racism. Judges and prosecutors now receive compulsory initial training in this regard. A civil-law bill on protection against discrimination has been drawn up.
The authorities have adopted a national strategy to improve the housing, education, employment and health situation of the Roma. Measures have been taken in favour of other historical minorities in the fields of public-sector employment and use of languages. A large number of long-term residents have been granted citizenship.
At the same time, the country continues to be divided along ethnic lines. Statements by politicians and opinion leaders do not assist reconciliation. Segregation in the school system is common. There are wide divergences in school curricula. Teaching in languages other than Macedonian appears to be insufficient or of poor quality. Media are also separated according to their ethno-linguistic affiliation and ethnically tinged reporting of events is still widespread.
The national strategy notwithstanding, the living conditions of many Roma continue to be worrying. The authorities have not provided sufficient funds for the implementation of recent action plans. Roma face difficulties with education, employment and access to health care. Roma women are subject to multiple discrimination and there is a high number of Roma children in the streets who do not receive adequate care.
Racial profiling as well as cases of ill-treatment by the police, targeting in particular the Roma, continue to be reported and there is still no fully independent mechanism to investigate such acts.
In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations, three of which require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:
- Adopt comprehensive civil legislation on protection against discrimination;
- Ensure that no Roma children are unnecessarily sent to educational facilities for pupils with a mental disability;
- Devise and implement, in close co-operation with civil society, a national strategy to combat racism and intolerance in the long term.
Link to the report, including Government observations
ECRI is an independent human rights body of the Council of Europe which monitors problems of racism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member states.
Stephanie Schmölzer, ECRI Secretariat, tel: +33 388 41 3240; Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org
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