The Network for Protection against Discrimination demands from the municipality of Gjorce Petrov to immediately withdraw from the intention to build a three-meter wall in the neighborhood where the predominantly Roma population lives. After the initial reactions and protests of the residents, the officials in the municipality pointed out that this is a fence that is intended for the protection and prevention of future traffic accidents in this part of the municipality. However, it is clear that the explanation is unfounded because this is a side street and the intention to close the whole part where there are several houses located close to the street is visible. The street itself is not very busy and at the specific place, there is a sidewalk that separates the houses from the street.
Regardless of the attempts to explain the “security” goals of the plan to build the disputed wall, this solution undoubtedly leads to the segregation of the population in the municipality. Building a wall next to the residences of the Roma from Gjorce Petrov must not be presented as the only possible solution for the traffic safety of children and other citizens living in this part of the municipality. It is especially unacceptable when obvious discriminatory practices are presented as a benefit to the locals and for their alleged protection from unintended consequences, against the will of the residents.
Because of all this, we ask the municipality to stop the construction activities in the settlement Ge-Ge and find other solutions that will improve the safety of the population, solutions that do not involve building physical barriers between people, which by definition mean segregation, indicate ingrained racism in institutions and society and violate basic constitutional principles.
There is a practice of setting up walls around settlements where Roma live in several municipalities. In this way, the Roma are further segregated, they have difficulty accessing the rest of the city and they are sent a message that they are undesirable. Segregation is prohibited by the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination, which requires the Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination to investigate the case and recommend the abolishment of such practices.
—————————————————9 June 2021