Although human rights are innate to every human being, they are not equally provided to everyone, especially to the most vulnerable groups, including Roma and Egyptians. This is one of the conclusions from the debate on "Roma and Egyptians in multicultural Montenegro", which was held on 12 December in Podgorica.
As a part of the celebration of the International Human Rights Day, this event was organised jointly by the Institution of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Council of Europe Programme Office in Podgorica, the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, and the NGO "Civil Alliance".
Siniša Bjeković, Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms; Lejla Dervišagić, Head of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Podgorica; Mladenka Tešić, Programme Manager for Human Rights and Democratisation at the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro; Danijela Vuković-Ćalasan, professor at the Faculty of Political Science; Samir Jaha, director of the NGO "Young Roma" and Ivana Đođić, legal advisor of the NGO "Civil Alliance", addressed the event as panellists. In their introductory remarks, they presented their view on the position of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegrin society, primarily through the prism of human rights, and gave recommendations for improvement.
It was jointly stated that even though Montenegro is a multicultural country, and its diversity contributes to the beauty and uniqueness of society, when it comes to Roma and Egyptians, numerous projects and research have shown that the preconditions for full respect of their rights and freedoms are not yet in place. Challenges are particularly obvious in the areas of housing, education, employment, legal status, and personal documentation, in which Roma communities still face widespread discriminations. All relevant stakeholders involved committed to keep improving co-operation for solving the mentioned challenges using a strategic and multi-sectoral approach while acting at the local and central level.
The participants of the forum were students of legal and political sciences, as well as young people from the Roma and Egyptian communities, who presented their thoughts on this topic in a very fruitful and dynamic discussion, sending the message that they will work to build a society of equal opportunities, a society in which everyone will create their path exclusively based on knowledge, regardless of belonging to a particular group or community.
This event was organised in synergy with two European Union and the Council of Europe initiatives, namely the action "Strengthening accountability of the judicial system and enhancing protection of victims' rights in Montenegro" (Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Türkiye), and the programme ROMACTED II (Promotion of good governance and Roma empowerment at local level).
Check out the photos from the event here.