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Article prepared by Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye 2023-2026
Facilitating dialogue between the Ombudsperson Office and Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro at the local level

The Ombudsperson’s Special Report on Roma and Egyptian communities in Montenegro was presented on 27 July and 14 December 2023 respectively in the municipalities of Berane and Nikšić at the presence of representatives of the local communities. The dialogue activities were the results of the public awareness component jointly conducted by the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro and the joint European Union/Council of Europe action “Combating hatred and intolerance in Montenegro”, in close communication with relevant civil society organisations and local municipalities. The overall aim of such initiative is to increase awareness of Roma and Egyptian citizens of their rights, and forms of redress available.

Authored by Nerma Dobardžić Kurti, Deputy Protector, and Milena Krsmanović Iković, Advisor to the Protector, the Special Report serves as a comprehensive analysis of the challenges faced by Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro as well as to support public authorities, civil society organisations, the media, and the public to identify key challenges for reducing social exclusion of the latter.

In Berane, the presentation of the Report was an opportunity to analyse and discuss key recommendations related to the territory of the municipality. The Institution of the Protector representatives reminded participants that in preparing the Report, five settlements (Riverside, Rudeš, Ranch, Pešca, and Talum) were visited, where about 760 citizens face inadequate living conditions, according to the Ombudsperson’s findings. Further findings pointed at the fact that 100 people do not have solved legal status and documents, and a small number are formally employed. In Nikšić, the activity provided a valuable platform for in-depth discussions among twenty participants, with focus on the situation of the “Budo Tomovic” settlement, home to about 1200 Roma and Egyptians beneath the Trebjesa and Brlja settlements.

On both occasions, attendees actively participated in conversations exchanging with local and Ombudsperson representatives, with attention in identifying instances of discrimination, and discussing the procedures for reporting such cases in various domains, including housing, education, and identity documentation. This allowed to enrich the collective comprehension of the challenges confronted by these communities and possible steps towards solutions, aligning with the recommendations articulated in the Ombudsman Report.

The events were organised within the action “Combating hatred and intolerance in Montenegro”, as part of the joint programme of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” in co-operation with the ROMACTED Programme (Promoting good governance and empowerment of Roma at the local level).

BERANE AND NIKSIC 20 december 2023
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