Archive for August 2nd, 2013

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Human Rights – Roma in Ukraine

August 2, 2013

Well this is quite interesting.

“The Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament of the Commissioner for Human Rights” – has been carrying out a data monitoring survey in relation to Roma rights in compliance with law enforcement.

A big issue within the EU as well it has to be said – and currently a very hot topic.

The survey was carried out with the assistance of several Roma orientated NGOs across Odessa, Poltova, Transcarpathia and Cherkasy with some input from Kherson as well.

According to the survey is that the Roma commit 2.5 times less crime than the rest of the nation – which I will return to.

51% of those involved in the survey were “visited” by the police, of which 35% were subjected to “unreasonable searches” and 66% were subjected to identity checks.

In summary, this article places the blame of stigmatising the Roma on the police – who disproportionately take an interest – and wider society itself who stereotype “gypsies”.

No different to France, the UK, Germany or most of the EU nations then.

However – this article does not mention any human trafficking issues – such as women and children (predominantly)  being coerced into begging and their spoils later taken from them – a form of forced labour and a recognised human trafficking issue.

The survey looks solely at the Roma issue through the lens of “race” and infringements on Roma human rights.  If the Ukrainian police and social services were better trained in the practices of human trafficking and recognising forcible/coerced begging, one wonders whether that crime figure that is currently stated at 2.5 times less than that of the average for Ukrainian society, would rise somewhat.

Just how many of the Roma children gathering around Italianski Boulevard with their mothers each morning in preparation for a days begging in Odessa City Centre, actually want to be doing that?  Most, some, a few, none?

Do we really think that they are all begging/working daily of their own free will, or are they coerced into it daily instead?

How much of the money they collect each day do the children actually keep for their labour – and how much is taken from them at the end of each day?  All, some, a little or nothing?

Human trafficking is a crime – and forced labour is a recognised part of that – and within forced labour, coerced child begging is also recognised.

In looking at the issue through a human trafficking lens, can “The Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament of the Commissioner for Human Rights” be so certain of the lower than normal crime statistics they proclaim – or are they simply interested in the crimes the Roma commit against the wider non-Roma society, rather than the crimes that may possibly be occurring within it – and the “racial profiling” by the Ukrainian police?

Should “The Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament of the Commissioner for Human Rights” also not be attentive to the individual rights of Roma women and children within their communities just as much as they seem to be for the Roma community as a whole?

That said, the Roma are a difficult issue for the EU and all its Member States – it would be foolish to think Ukraine will handle the issue any better when more and more of Ukrainian policy now slowly begins to mirror that of the EU.

Nevertheless, an interesting article and proof of proactive work in human rights in Ukraine by the authorities – which is always much better than reactive action.

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