Statutory rights of Roma

IPC has been implementing the project “Free Legal Assistance to Roma in Civil Registration in Croatia” since June 2011.

Roma in Croatia experience problems inherent to other ethnic minorities after the breakdown of Yugoslavia (although admittedly to a much higher extent than others), such as citizenship issues, resulting in problems in accessing medical assistance, schooling, employment, property, alongside with social exclusion.

Furthermore, the Roma community has also inherited problems from the past – no comprehensive approach to the Roma issue, chronic lack of housing and facilities, lack of understanding and willingness of the State to accept and support the Roma community. Two greatest problems Roma population is facing in Croatia are unemployment and citizenship issues. Those among Roma who could work do not have Croatian citizenship and cannot find an employment. Their children cannot attend school, do not have access to social welfare and health protection. Lack of information is one of the key reasons that the members of Roma population insufficiently avail themselves of the possibility to protect their rights.

Therefore, with the financial support of UNHCR, IPC started the project “Free Legal Assistance to Roma in Civil Registration in Croatia” which has been implemented by two mobile team. The teams focused on mapping the current situation through outreach activities aiming at verifying the number of stateless persons, the causes and the scope of unregulated citizenship, residence, civil status (registration of birth, marriage, death, etc) and lack of personal identification documents. Consequently, persons who are identified will be assisted by professional legal staff in the process of regulating their status and citizenship rights. Legal Advisers and Roma Liaison Assistants form two mobile teams which cover the following places in Croatia: Slavonski Brod, Nova Gradiska, Okucani, Beli Manastir, Darda, Valpovo, Zagreb, Kutina, Novska and Sisak. In order to successfully implement the objective of the project, IPC implements activities which will increase awareness of Roma and other relevant stakeholders on the need for civil registration and documentation, as well as the need for removing unnecessary legal and administrative obstacles associated with registration for civil, social and political rights.