Thousands call for action by Commission to end discrimination against Roma people
(Brussels, 28 June 2012) Yesterday at the EU Roma Platform for Roma Inclusion, Amnesty International delivered a petition with 93,165 signatures calling for an end to discrimination against Roma people. The signatures from people from around the world are calling on the European Commission to take stronger action to guarantee the compliance of member states with EU anti-discrimination law and uphold human rights for all.
As a result of the huge public support for the petition, we were able to meet EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, who received our petition delivered by Roma activists from different EU countries.
"We, Roma have a right to a home and work as all other European citizens. But the children that are born in the camps don't have a future… The law is our only hope. We are grateful that today you are listening to us and hope that you will do something for our people once and for all," said Ferid Sejdic, who was forcibly evicted last September and is now living at the segregated Castel Romano camp in Rome, Italy.
Mrs Reding welcomed the fact that Roma people were making their voices heard and listened to Roma activists tell their stories of forced evictions, segregation and exclusion. “We have to push the member states to put into action what they promised to do,” she said.
Every year, thousands of Roma are forced from their homes. In many countries, their children are placed in segregated schools with substandard education. They are denied jobs and face poor health care. They are victims of hate violence and often left unprotected by the police. All of this happens simply because they are Roma.
EU member states are failing to enforce EU anti-discrimination law. Instead, they are allowing discrimination to go unchecked or even adopting discriminatory policies that target Roma people. The European Commission has the responsibility, the obligation and the tools to ensure compliance with EU law and fight against the discrimination and violence that Roma people face, including through infringement proceedings – a tool that the Commission can apply when states do not correctly implement any piece of EU legislation.
Yet, the lack of implementation of EU anti-discrimination law – be it on race, disability, gender or other grounds – has not yet been the subject of an infringement procedure. This is despite the fact that the EU has direct competence to take such measures.
That is why a petition from more than 93,000 people, calling on the European Commission to take action and to use its legal tools, is so strong: it shows the expectation people have that the Commission will enforce and uphold EU equality legislation.
The petition was handed over at the 8th EU Roma Platform, a gathering of officials and experts working on Roma issues. Over 100 participants witnessed the hand over and will be able to bring the petition’s message to their countries.