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28.03.2013

Roma Strategy – for government eyes alone?

   

Not only are the Roma being used to nominally fulfil EU requirements needed for visa liberalization, but the “Strategy” supposed to fulfil these is being treated as classified information.

In an article for the March edition of the Roma Law Herald, Nico Rergo writes that it had already been clear to him that the “Strategy on the Protection and Integration of the Roma ethnic minority into Ukrainian society up till 2020” was merely to implement the EU Visa Liberalization Action Plan of 19 April 2012. 

It was therefore clear also that the Ministry of Culture and President’s Administration would not wish to share the document with the Roma community since the latter would ask for changes and some real substance to the Strategy.

It remains, nonetheless, truly incredible that the draft Presidential Decree “On a Strategy on the Protection and Integration of the Roma ethnic minority into Ukrainian society up till 2020” is stamped “For Official Use Only”.

The secrecy was there from the outset, the author writes. The Ministry of Culture drew up the draft Strategy without consultation and, he asserts, unprofessionally. Then the “discussion” was via the Ministry’s site with those in charge refusing to publish the “discussed” variant from September 2012 to January 2013.

The request to make public the draft submitted for approval to the Cabinet of Ministers was rejected.

The author then produces a letter from the President’s Administration sent from the address Відкритість (the word vidkytist meaning openness) on 6 March.

The draft Decree is being worked on in the President’s Administration, it states, with the following flood of words basically citing the Public Information Act to justify certain information being for official use only. Therefore, while wishing to always be open in our work and contact with the public, etc, etc, we are turning down your application to see the information.

On 15 March the Odessa Roma Congress sent the same head of public information within the President’s Administration, Denis Ivanesko, an extended information request explaining why they need to be shown the document

Given that the document in question is the “Strategy on the Protection and Integration of the Roma ethnic minority into Ukrainian society up till 2020”, it does not seem necessary to spell out their reasons …

The response repeats that as of 18 March 2013 the draft Decree is being worked on.

The author in fact writes that via round-about means they have received a copy from the beginning of February.  The Decree simply adopts the attached Strategy.  The latter is full of words about compliance with constitutional and international requirements, etc and seems exceedingly short on substance. Which may, of course, be what is to be kept “for official information only” as long as possible. 

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