MINELRES: Factsheet: Summit-to-Summit Roma Rights Record

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Apr 11 13:02:54 2010

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


BUDAPEST, CORDOBA, 8 APRIL 2010:  At the September 2008 Roma Summit, the
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) drew the attention of European Union
and national policy-makers to human rights standards for the protection
of Roma. On the occasion of the Second European Roma Summit, this
factsheet examines respect of  those principles in the Member States and
accession countries since that time. 

Violence against Roma: In cases brought by the ERRC, the European Court
of Human Rights has confirmed that the state is obliged to investigate
and prosecute persons who commit violence against Roma, whether they are
private actors or state officials. The Court reinforced this message in
2009 and 2010 in cases brought by the ERRC against Croatia and Bulgaria.
Despite this, most perpetrators of violence against Roma in the EU act
with impunity.
Since 2008, in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy, anti-Romani
violence has remained a serious and even an increasing problem; Roma in
other countries have also been affected. In Hungary, the ERRC registered
reports of at least 45 violent attacks against Roma including 9
fatalities since 2008. According to ERRC research only one perpetrator
has been found guilty to date (and is appealing). In the Czech Republic,
at least 7 attacks against Roma were reported, most employing Molotov
cocktails, and several marches which resulted in anti-Romani violence.
In one attack, a two-year old girl almost died, suffering extensive
burns during a fire bombing. Media reports indicate that perpetrators
were identified in only two attacks. In November 2009, following the
huge increase in violence against Roma in Italy in 2008, a mob of
200-300 people attacked and damaged Romani homes in Alba Adriatica. In
April 2009, YouTube viewers could watch a group of Slovak police
officers abuse and humiliate six young Romani boys in detention. In June
2009 in Northern Ireland (UK) a group of Romani families were subjected
to a series of violent attacks on their homes in Belfast; the church in
which they sought shelter was also attacked.  In Turkey, around one
thousand people attacked Romani neighbourhoods in Manisa`s Selendi
suburb in January 2010. The mob destroyed and burnt the houses, tents
and vehicles of Roma and shouted slogans like "We don't want Roma in
Selendi". As a result, a total of 74 Roma fled the town.

Increasing activity of extremist political parties, politicians and
policies: Since 2008, in many EU countries extremist political parties
and politicians have sharpened their anti-Romani rhetoric and actions,
creating a climate in which rights violations are more likely to occur
with impunity.
In Hungary, the Magyar Garda, a paramilitary organisation with an
explicit racist agenda, continues to operate openly despite a decision
by the Supreme Court to ban it in 2009. That same year, Jobbik, an
extremist party with an explicit anti-Romani platform, won four seats in
European Parliament elections. In Italy, the Government has continued to
use anti-Romani rhetoric to harden public opinion against Roma and Sinti
while strengthening a state of emergency explicitly aimed at Roma and
has moved aggressively to evict Roma from their homes and herd them into
controlled camps: such evictions appear to be increasing in 2010. In
Slovakia in 2010, the far-right Ludova strana Nase Slovensko (People's
Party Our Slovakia) has been increasingly active with rhetoric
specifically referring to "gypsy criminality." In November 2008, the
Czech Workers Party (DS) organised a rally in Litvinov with 500
neo-Nazis and attempted to march on a Romani settlement before being
stopped by police after violent clashes. In February 2010 the Romanian
Foreign Minister made public statements suggesting that Roma are
genetically predisposed to criminality. The media reported that
President Traian Basescu defended the Minister, saying that Romania has
a tarnished image abroad because of Romani beggars on "every corner of
the street".

Denial of access to health care and social assistance: Discrimination in
access to health care and social assistance remains a barrier blocking
access of Roma to these services in many Member States. In two rulings
issued in 2009, the European Committee of Social Rights found Bulgaria
in violation of the European Social Charter by failing to meet its
obligations to ensure that Roma have adequate access to the health care
system and to social assistance. The Government has responded positively
by amending the law on social assistance to eliminate a time limitation
on such assistance. In Kosovo, lead contamination of IDP camps housing
Roma in Northern Mitrovica is considered to be one of the biggest
medical crises in the region. Despite significant international and EU
attention to this situation, Roma continue to live in the camps after
more than 10 years, exposed to lead contamination which is reported to
have resulted in dozens of deaths.

Coercive sterilisation of Romani women continues: In Hungary the ERRC
has documented sporadic cases, the most recent one from 2008. Czech
cases from as recent as 2008 have been reported and more than 20 new
cases are pending for investigation with regional health authorities. In
2009 the Czech Government expressed regret to the victims of this
practice and the Hungarian Government provided compensation to one
victim. The Slovak government has not taken any steps to address this
issue and neither the Czech nor Slovak governments have adopted a
comprehensive plan to provide compensation to all victims. Health care
law reform is required in Hungary to ensure that informed consent for
sterilisation is adequately secured.

Systemic segregation of Romani children in school continues: The
European Court of Human Rights has reaffirmed that school segregation of
Romani children (in schools for children with disabilities and in
separate schools or classes in mainstream schools) constitutes illegal
discrimination. In March 2010, the Grand Chamber of the European Court
of Human Rights held in the case Orsus and Others v. Croatia that the
segregation of Romani children into separate classes based ostensibly on
language deficiencies is unlawful discrimination. Despite three
unequivocal rulings by the Court since 2007, educational segregation of
Romani children is systemic in many countries of the European Union:
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia,
with credible reports of segregation in Northern Ireland (UK), Portugal
and Spain. Throughout the EU, Romani children complete school at much
lower rates than their non-Romani peers.
The response of Member States has been wholly inadequate: In the Czech
Republic, the Government has recognised the problem but its action plan
contains no clear timeline or targets for addressing it. In Bulgaria,
successful integration pilots exist but after more than a decade these
have still not been incorporated into a scaled-up Government programme.
In Slovakia, the Prime Minister has suggested further segregation of
Roma in boarding schools as the appropriate policy.

Widespread residential segregation plagues Roma: An October 2009 report
of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that
“segregation is still evident in many EU Member States, such as
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Hungary,
Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia,
sometimes as a result of deliberate government policy”. In Italy, the
placement of Roma and Sinti in ‘nomad camps’ constitutes an official
policy to segregate Roma and Sinti from the population Italian majority.
Roma living in segregated settlements may be more susceptible to violent
racist attacks.

Eviction without alternative accommodation violates human rights law: In
February 2010 the European Committee of Social Rights found France in
violation of the European Social Charter because of its practice of
evictions of Travellers and other violations of the right to housing.
Since 2008, evictions of Roma in violation of international law have
continued in Bulgaria, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovakia. Italy has
been particularly active, with more than 20 evictions of Roma in Milan
so far in 2010. 

The European Roma Rights Centre calls on European Union institutions and
the Member States to enact and implement legislation and policy to
progressively achieve human rights respect and equality of Roma.

For further information, contact:
Rob Kushen, ERRC Managing Director, rob.kushen@errc.org +1.917.747.3285
Ostalinda Maya, Women’s Rights and Equality Coordinator,
ostalinda.maya@errc.org  +36.30.500.1959
Sinan Gokcen, ERRC Media and Communications Officer,
sinan.gokcen@errc.org  +36.30.500.1324

© ERRC 2010. All rights reserved 


The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the
web at: http://www.errc.org
To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1016 Budapest
Naphegy ter 8
Tel: +36.1.413.2200 

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