BPRI-supported study highlights discrimination against Roma in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

by Aleksandar Dimishkovski

Almost four-fifths of Roma in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia say that they or someone close to them have been the victims of discrimination, says a new study supported by the Best Practices for Roma Integration (BPRI) project and presented at local workshops in November 2013.

The study, which examines different aspects of discrimination against the Roma community, is based on interviews with 1,200 respondents from Kumanovo, Prilep, Stip, Suto Orizari, Tetovo and Gostivar, conducted in July 2013.

It notes that most Roma reported discrimination based on their ethnicity (27.6 per cent), and the colour of their skin (18.2 per cent). Other grounds for discrimination were language (10.5 per cent) and level of education (8.9 per cent).

The study was carried out by the Skopje-based Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis, in co-operation with the Office of the local Ombudsperson.

“This research highlights that more action is needed in educational institutions and businesses on confronting and tackling discriminatory attitudes to overcome discrimination”, said Marijan Ponjavikj from the Office of the Ombudsperson. “Developing a comprehensive, long-term strategy covering both the private and the public sector is vital to overcoming the stereotypes and prejudices that seem to have deep roots in our society.”   

Ponjavikj added that studies of this type are crucial for the detection of discrimination and can lead to the development of preventive and protective initiatives by the authorities to effectively counter discrimination.

Vladimir Misev, President of the Institute for Democracy Socieatas Civilis, says that the study also shows that there needs to be greater awareness among Roma about whom they can turn to if they need help or have a complaint.

“Though three-quarters of the respondents were aware of the existence of the Office of the Ombudsperson as an institution, yet more than 60 per cent were not aware that they could ask for help from this institution,” Misev says.  

“The fight against discrimination is a long-term process, for which meticulous planning is needed if results are to be achieved,” says Judith Kiers, BPRI’s Project Manager. “With this study, we wanted to provide a new advocacy tool with up-to-date information and analysis for people working to combat discrimination against the Roma.”

BPRI is a regional project funded by the European Union, supported by OSCE participating States and implemented by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The project supports innovative programmes to promote greater Roma participation in political and public life and decision-making, help to combat discrimination and contribute to better living conditions.

 

The study is available in the folowing languages: