27 April 2009 – Chachipe has strongly condemned the conclusion of a bilateral readmission agreement between Germany and Kosovo. According to an information note from the Ministry of Interior of Lower Saxony to the local immigration authorities, the Kosovo authorities have recently agreed to proceed any readmission requests of individuals from Kosovo without consideration to a person’s ethnic background.
“This agreement opens the way for the forced repatriation of Roma,” Chachipe said, reminding that UNMIK, which was in charge of the readmission procedure, until it was taken over by the Kosovo authorities, in November last year, regularly used its leverage to turn down the forced repatriation of Roma. “The Kosovo authorities don’t have the same standing,” Chachipe said. “Moreover, they are very eager to demonstrate that Kosovo has ‘deserved’ its independency by formally accepting to readmit Kosovo Roma and Serbs.”
Since 2005, the German authorities have tried to water down the UNHCR’s position on the continued needs of international protection for individuals from Kosovo which rules out the forced repatriation of Roma. First agreements with UNMIK allowed the forced repatriation of criminal offenders. The present agreement, which has been negotiated since November last year, seems to lift any barriers.
“If confirmed, the present agreement is in clear breach with UNHCR position on the continued needs of international protection for individuals from Kosovo according to which Kosovo Roma and Serbs are still at risk of being persecuted on an ethnic basis and should thus not be deported to Kosovo,” the organisation said. It also added, that the forced repatriation of Roma to Kosovo is in breach with the principle of non-refoulement according to which a person cannot be deported back to a place, where this person fears to suffer persecution on the grounds of origin or ethnicity.
“International reports concomitantly show that Roma continue to suffer widespread discrimination in Kosovo. This discrimination is such that the survival of the Roma community may be considered at risk,” Chachipe said. The organisation reiterated its criticism of the Kosovo existing legal framework for not providing enforceable guarantees for the Roma: “The Kosovo constitution and the laws which were adopted in its aftermath leave wide room for interpretation when it comes to the rights of ethnic minorities. In practice, this means, that the rights of Roma, including the right to maintain and develop their culture and identity, are mostly ignored.”
The organisation also pointed out at the unwillingness of local authorities to reintegrate returnees, documented in the most recent UNMIK report.
“The agreement which has been concluded between the German federal government and the Kosovo authorities concerns people, who have been living in Germany for more than a decade. It concerns children who are born in Germany and have German as their native language.”, Chachipe said. “It is thus hardly possible to speak about a return: Quite on contrary, these people are sent to a country which they do not know, and where they are unwanted,” the organisation added.
The organisation said that it was particularly hard for Roma to accept that a country, which was responsible for the deportation and subsequent murder of several hundred thousand Roma during the Second World War, shows no remorse deporting Roma.