1 February 2008 – In its annual human rights report, Human Rights Watch expresses concerns over the situation of Roma in Serbia and particularly hightlights the destitute condition of IDPs and forced returnees from Western Europe. This includes Roma from Kosovo forcibly returned to other parts of Serbia, where the organisation points out to the lack of adequate assistance programmes placing a high burden on the local Roma communities.

As regards to Kosovo, the organisation underlines the ongoing discrimination and harassment of members of ethnic minorities, in particular, Roma, Ashkalija and Kosovo Egyptians, terminology used throughout the text, and their exclusion from political decision making including the status negotiations process.

The organisation also highlights the slow process as regards to voluntary returns and ongoing forced repatriation of refugees from Western Europe, 1,900 at the time of writing of the report in 2007. Ten percent of the forcibly returned are assumed belonging to the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.

Human Rights Watch points out at the fact that forcibly returned refugees do not benefit from any assistance in Kosovo. According to the organisation, this may however change with the adoption by the Kosovo Parliament of the draft policy on readmission and reintegration which was already agreed between UNMIK and PISG in November 2007 and covers also forced returns.

The full text of the report can be downloaded here.