ERRC Challenges Discrimination of Roma at the Border Before the Constitutional Court of Macedonia

Budapest, Skopje, 26/02/2014 - The European Roma Rights Centre has launched an initiative before the Constitutional Court of Macedonia claiming that amendments to the Law on Travel Documents of citizens of Macedonia (grounds for revocation of passports as well as obstacles to the right to leave the country) are in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia as well as with international instruments for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Citizens of Macedonia have enjoyed the right to visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone since 19 December 2009, and enjoy the right to visa-free travel to other neighbouring countries. Citizens of Macedonia also enjoy a human right to leave their own country.

The ERRC has become aware that some Romani individuals cannot exercise these rights; they are subject to discriminatory practices and other inappropriate treatment by border officials when they are trying to leave the country.

The ERRC has conducted research on the matter and gathered data which indicates that racially motivated discriminatory practices by Macedonian officials take place at the borders of Macedonia. Between 2011 and 2013, the ERRC documented the cases of 74 Romani individuals who were prevented from exiting the country as well as 24 cases of passport revocations by Macedonian border officials. Additional, the ERRC, while working in the field, has become aware of another 50 similar cases.