Europe must break cycle of discrimination facing Roma

Europe must break cycle of discrimination facing Roma

(Brussels, 7 April 2010) Amnesty International is calling on the European Union (EU) and its member states to take concrete action to break the cycle of discrimination, poverty and exclusion experienced by Romani communities in Europe.

On the eve of the second EU Roma Summit taking place in Cordoba, Spain, on 8 April 2010, Amnesty International is calling on the EU to develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure equality and non-discrimination for the Roma.

Despite the pervasive discrimination against millions of Roma across the continent, the EU is failing to hold national authorities accountable when they do not meet their responsibilities,” said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s interim Secretary General.

EU leaders must adopt a concrete plan of action to address the human rights abuses faced by Romani communities. They must speak up against racist attacks and hate speech and provide concrete measures to end discrimination in access to housing, education, health and employment.”

Amnesty International, along with Romani and other non-governmental organizations, has documented the failures of the authorities in a number of European countries to protect Romani communities from discrimination by public and private actors. The organization has highlighted repeated failures to end segregation of Romani children in education and to guarantee Romani communities’ right to adequate housing.  

Amnesty international’s document, Stop forced evictions of Roma in Europe, published today, highlights how Romani communities are targeted for forced evictions.

Living in neglected settlements, Romani communities are often evicted without adequate notice or prior consultation and without being offered any alternative accommodation. As a result, victims of forced evictions are often left homeless or in deplorable housing and living conditions. Many also lose their possessions and whatever access they had to education, sources of employment, public services.

Amnesty International’s document shows how governments in Europe, such as in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania and Serbia, have carried out forced evictions in breach of their international obligations. Their failure to provide adequate alternative housing to Roma or resettling them in isolated settlements perpetuates further segregation of Romani communities.

The Roma people are citizens of Europe and European leaders must ensure that they have the same rights and responsibilities as their compatriots. There cannot be second class citizens in the Europe of the 21 century,” Claudio Cordone said. “

At the summit in Cordoba, EU leaders need to develop a coherent EU Framework Policy which addresses the discrimination of Roma in Europe. They must demonstrate political will to make Roma inclusion a reality.”

In Bulgaria, at least 200 Roma were left homeless when local authorities forcibly evicted them and demolished their houses in the Gorno Ezerovo and Medni Rudnik settlements in the Black Sea city of Burgas in September 2009.
The “Nomad Plan”, which began in July 2009 in Rome, Italy, envisages the destruction of over 100 Romani settlements across the capital. An estimated 6,000 Roma are to be resettled, without adequate consultation, into just 13 new or expanded camps on the outskirts of the city.  The plan is likely to leave more than 1,000 Roma homeless.
On 3 April 2009, the Serbian authorities forcibly evicted 250 Roma from a temporary settlement in New Belgrade. For many of the residents, who were originally displaced from Kosovo, this was not the first time they were being torn away from their homes. The authorities offered the families containers in another part of Belgrade but local residents tried to set them on fire. The Romani families were at no point offered adequate housing.
Since June 2006, more than 100 Romani families living initially in the centre of Athens, Greece, were forcibly evicted four times without being consulted or offered alternative accommodation.
In 2004, more than 100 Roma were forcibly evicted from a building in the centre of Miercurea Ciuc in central Romania. Most were resettled by the authorities in metal cabins on the outskirts of the town, behind a sewage treatment plant. Some decided to move to a nearby waste dump, rather than live next to the sewage plant. The temporary dwellings  close to the sewage treatment plant fall within the 300-metre protection zone established by Romanian law to separate homes from potential toxic hazards. The ordeal of the Romani families has continued for six years.

See also:
The Wrong Answer – Italy’s “Nomad Plan” violates the housing rights of Roma in Rome no index numbers
Treated like waste: Roma homes destroyed, and health at risk, in Romania
Injustice renamed: Discrimination in education of Roma persists in the Czech Republic

For further comment/background and interviews:

     Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
     Tel: 32-2-5021499
     Fax: 32-2-5025686
     Email: [email protected]