According to unofficial estimates, there are between 400 000 and 500 000 Roma in Serbia nowadays. They are the most imperiled social and economic group and often faced with discrimination, intolerance and violence. The severity of this problem is reflected by the fact that every month the Minority Rights Center (MRC) investigates over 20 cases of discrimination and violence by private individuals, and abuses of rights by police.

A significant number of Roma are victims of institutional discrimination in Serbia and are deprived of their fundamental civil rights. Legislation on voting, employment, education, health care and social care stipulates registration of residence as a requirement. As certain Roma live in informal and illegal settlements, they cannot meet this requirement. This creates a kind of ghettoization which is currently a Roma problem, but can be turned into problem of society as a whole.

Cases described in the report point to bad treatment of Roma by representatives  of state bodies and public institutions in Serbia. Although legislation prohibits any form of discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, religion, gender, etc., deeply rooted social prejudices are still an obstacle to the implementation of the proclaimed principles.

Serbia’s participation in the international project “Decade of Roma Inclusion

2005-2015” is a step forward. In 2005, the government of Serbia adopted four action plans within this project: in the areas of education, employment, health care and housing. Efficient implementation of these plans will depend on the number and quality of the measures taken. Unfortunately, not many things have been done.

The political environment in Serbia has changed since 2006. The new Constitution of Serbia was passed in November and elections were held at the beginning of 2007. It was the first time that two Roma parties entered Parliament, which brought a new opportunity for Roma participation in political issues and public discussions about Roma problems.

This report consists of ten chapters. Chapters 1 to 8 describe abuses of Roma human and civil rights. The final part contains recommendations made by the Minority Rights Center. The described cases were researched during 2006 and 2007 and they are all supported by evidence collected by MRS researchers. Cases were chosen according to their explicitness.

Date: September 2007

Source: Minority Rights Centre

The report is available here.