AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
Stop betraying Europe’s Roma people
(Brussels, 23 June 2011) “If they had the power they’d put us all against the wall and shoot us.” Maria, a Romani woman, used to live in the centre of the Romanian town of Piatra Neamţ until the authorities forced her family to move to an old chicken farm on the edge of town. Maria’s story of discrimination is one of the many human rights violations suffered by Roma people reported in Amnesty International’s latest publication Mind the legal gap: Roma and the right to housing in Romania, issued today. The report highlights serious human rights abuses which occur with total impunity in Romania.
As the European Council prepares to endorse a plan to bridge the gap between Roma people and mainstream society, Amnesty International has urged EU governments to get tough with their peers who allow Roma people to be abused. “Fine words and largesse in Brussels must translate into drastic improvements for Roma people on the ground. Too many governments are betraying Europe’s largest minority by turning a blind eye to their neighbours’ misconduct”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.
A Romani woman forcibly evicted to the outskirts of Constanţa explained: “We don’t have electricity, we don’t have water. I bring plastic bottles to make a fire. We don’t have money for food, wood or clothes. We gather scrap iron, plastic, whatever we find.”
There are more than 2 million Roma people in Romania, about ten percent of the country’s population. Discrimination by officials and society remains widespread. Roma people particularly suffer because the right to adequate housing is not protected in law since they have historically been denied access to land and property. They are further disadvantaged by the scarcity of social housing, in a country where all but three percent of housing is private.
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Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office, Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0)2 548 2773