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“Empowerment is a prime aim of human rights and it’s particularly necessary for groups such as Roma youth, who are so often excluded,” he said. “At the same time, I’m discouraged by the profound prejudice against Roma that is handed down in our societies from generation to generation. This must be combated with all the means at our disposal.”

Speaking about hate crime against Roma, Mr O’Flaherty emphasised the obligation of governments:

“Anti-Gypsyism can manifest itself in ways that constitute hate crimes, and must be treated as such. States have the duty to combat hate speech and hate crime, and they must be held to account.” Police in EU Member States need to be trained to record hate crimes and react with sensitivity to victims, while the judiciary must draw attention to the bias motive for the perpetration of hate crime.

Announcing the forthcoming publication of new data on the situation of the Roma by the Fundamental Rights Agency, Mr O’Flaherty said:

“With FRA’s new data, you will be able to see the situation as it is now, and quite frankly this situation is appalling.”

In order to examine the reality of the fundamental rights situation experienced by Roma, the Fundamental Rights Agency has surveyed 7,947 Roma in nine EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain). The survey covers topics including discrimination in areas such as the labour market, education, housing, health and other services, as well as criminal victimisation and hate crime. The first results will be published at the end of November.