Time to do more: EU must end discrimination against Roma
(Brussels, 4 April 2013) With the approach of International Roma Day on 8 April, Amnesty International has challenged the European Union to do more to end discrimination against Roma people throughout its 27 member states.
More than a decade after EU adoption of the Race Equality Directive that bans racial or ethnic-based discrimination, Roma people across the continent continue to face widespread discrimination in areas including access to housing, health care, employment and education.
“The EU must use all the tools at its disposal to penalise governments that fail to tackle discrimination and violence against Roma people,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.
“Racial and ethnic-based discrimination is forbidden by the Race Equality Directive and the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, but the European Commission has so far been hesitant to act against EU countries which violate the human rights of Roma people.”
The six million Roma people who live in EU countries fall far below national averages on almost all human development indicators: eight out of ten are at risk of poverty, and only one in seven young adults completes secondary education.
The forced eviction of Roma people continues to be common in several European countries including France, Italy and Romania.
In the Czech Republic, Greece and Slovakia, Roma children continue to attend segregated schools, which contravenes national and EU laws which forbid racial discrimination.
More than 120 serious violent attacks against Roma people and their property occurred in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia between January 2008 and July 2012, which included shootings, stabbings and arson attacks.
State authorities, including the police, frequently fail to prevent or properly investigate these attacks.
As the EU’s executive body, the Commission has the necessary powers to pursue EU countries which fail to comply with EU law and the Charter. However, this has never happened in respect of policies and practices which discriminate against the Roma or any other ethnic minority.
Amnesty International’s briefing Human rights here. Roma rights now. A wake-up call for the European Union urges the EU to take decisive action and play a central role in ending discrimination against Roma people in Europe.
Visit the Roma village event at 1pm outside the European Parliament on 8 April. There will be photo and interview opportunities with Roma activists from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Romania, MEPs, the Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office and Amnesty International experts on Roma issues. The chair and members of the European Roma Policy Coalition will also be available for interviews.
For more information please contact:
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 2773