Leading European rights agencies concerned by continuing discrimination of and violence against Roma - International Roma Day (8 April)

08/04/2009
In a joint statement issued ahead of tomorrow's International Roma Day (8 April), four leading European human rights bodies today expressed deep concern about the continuing discriminatory treatment and exclusion of the Roma.

The statement was released today by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM).

"Our organisations are deeply concerned by the continuing discriminatory treatment and exclusion of the Roma, and particularly by the recent escalation in hate motivated incidents and racist rhetoric reported in a number of States," the statement says.

"Scapegoating in times of economic crisis"

"In times of economic crisis, communities such as the Roma, along with migrants and other vulnerable groups, tend to become easy ‘scapegoats' for extremist movements and populist politicians."

The institutions note that such "scapegoating" has already resulted in damaging inter-ethnic relations and increased incidents of violent hate crime in some countries. They stress that, as the economic crisis deepens, political leaders need to unequivocally and publicly condemn any form of violence targeting Roma: "In order to avoid inciting and inflaming ethnic tensions, politicians and other public figures must consider their statements carefully", they said.

Discrimination and ethnic profiling

The statement deplores that Roma who are EU citizens have the right to move and reside freely within the EU, but nevertheless often face discriminatory treatment. The organisations are particularly concerned about racial profiling of Roma in some States.

Finally, the four organisations commit themselves to review Roma-related policies, measure their impact, identify good practices and assist States in developing and implementing sustainable integration policies - all in partnership with the Roma communities.

Upcoming FRA report on Roma

On 22 April, FRA will present a new report on discrimination against Roma in the EU. This will be the first in a series of publications using data gathered by a major survey, the EU-MIDIS (European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey). Roma were one of the groups interviewed and of those Roma interviewed, 50% considered that they had been discriminated against, at least once, in the previous 12 months.

Read the full statement at: http://fra.europa.eu/    

Media contact:
Email: media@fra.europa.eu
Tel.: +43 1 58030-642