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Discrimination against the Roma:

Recent media accounts & human
rights reports: 2007 & 2008

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Roma are also known as Gypsies, Rom, Rroma, Romani, etc.

Human rights reports on the Roma:

bullet2007-JAN: Iraq: The Roma are among the minorities suffering extreme oppression in Iraq, mainly due to the civil war between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims that was triggered by the U.S. invasion. 1
 
bullet2007-APR-05: The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the U.S. State Department issued a report for 2006 stating:
 
bulletBosnia:  

"Working with the Bosnian Roma Council, the United States ... funded a social research project to collect information on the social, economic, health, and education conditions of Romani citizens that would be used to help the government and NGOs modify regulations affecting Roma and improve their socio-economic status."

bulletMoldova:

"Several religious groups continued to have problems obtaining official registration. Societal violence and discrimination against women, children, and Roma persisted."

bulletKosovo:

"During the year the United States provided advocacy and funding for the UN mission's efforts to relocate hundreds of displaced Roma in northern Kosovo away from lead-contaminated camps and provide treatment for children suffering from lead poisoning."  2

bullet2007-MAY-08: Slovak Republic: A Consular Information sheet states that:

"Reports of racially motivated incidents against foreigners and person of color, perpetrated by groups with a history of targeting persons of Roma, African or Asian descent, have occurred in the Slovak Republic.  In addition to incidents of assault, persons of Roma, African, or Asian heritage may be subject to various types of harassment, such as verbal abuse." 3

bullet2007-MAR-27: Belarus etc.: The International Helsinki Federation in its 2006 report on "Human Rights in the OSCE region" 4 stated:

"Roma Minority: there have been reports that Roma rights issues are similar in profile to those elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe: that is, that Roma face racial discrimination and other exclusionary forces. According local Roma activists, while the human rights situation in Belarus is generally very poor, Roma are in an especially vulnerable situation. In particular, Roma reportedly fall victim to police violence; they have limited access to education; many Roma lack the personal documents they need to access fundamental rights, including identity cards, residence permits, etc.; large numbers of Roma live in un-integrated settlements in substandard conditions, often without basic infrastructure and/or utilities; and the government has failed to date to undertake relevant measures to improve the situation."

"There have been reports that Roma living in the areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986 may have been disproportionately excluded from preventive and/or ameliorative medical measures, such as regular doses of iodine, required for the prevention of thyroid cancer. Roma in Belarus frequently do not challenge discriminatory treatment and human rights violations at the relevant institutions because they consider authorities undemocratic and/or unreceptive too such complaints, as well as for reasons related to their historic exclusion. In addition to the issues raised above, a significant number of Roma have not yet exchanged their old identification documents for new documents, and may have missed the deadline in 2004 for the exchange of such documents. Such persons are at risk to be deprived from the right to vote and other goods and services."

"Hate speech against Roma takes place in the media, portraying Roma as thieves and criminals, thereby provoking high levels of intolerance and perceptions of Roma as an outcast group. Discriminatory treatment of Roma by local authorities deepens the inequality of Roma in their access to fundamental rights." 5

bullet2007-OCT-25: Amnesty International issues report on Roma discrimination: Their report documents many failures of governments in Europe to treat Roma as full sentences. In only one area -- that of active discrimination and police violence -- they reported human rights violations in:
bulletBulgaria about the torture and death of a Romani man in police custody.
bulletCroatia about the failure of authorities to investigate a severe beating of a Romani man.
bulletCzech Republic about many allegations of police violence and failure to investigate crimes against Roma.
bulletGreece about the killing of a Romani man, and the shooting in the head of another Romani man.
bulletMacedonia about the death of a 17-year-old Romani boy who apparently died of drowning while running from police. Also, two Romani men were beaten outside a police station and then dragged into the station for more beating.
bulletRomania about a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) that reported inadequate enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws, and racist articles in the media. There was also a report of an apparent police riot. President Traian Basescu reportedly called a journalist a "dirty gypsy", but apologized later for causing the journalist "an undeserved moral damage."
bulletSlovakia about refusal of service by a restaurant, the forced sterilization of three Romani women between 1999 and 2002. The UN Committee of the Rights of the Child expressed its concern about discrimination and segregation experienced by Roma, and others, in  education, health care and housing. They also were concerned about the continuing incidents of excessive use of force by police.

Their report also documented human rights abuses in housing, employment, health services, education, as well as civil, political, economic and social rights. 6
 

bullet2008-JUL-10: Italy: European Parliament rebukes Italy: The Italian government is entering Roma ghettos and fingerprinting adults and children. The data is filed according to religion, Their stated goal is to cut crime, control the use of children used for begging and to help identify illegal immigrants. By a vote of 336 to 220, the European Parliament passed a resolution criticizing Italy for its actions. It asked Italy "to refrain from collecting the fingerprints from Roma, including minors, as this would clearly constitute an act of discrimination based on race and ethnic origin." Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said the move by Parliament was "politically motivated and based on prejudices" against his country. The fingerprinting has also been criticized by Unicef. 7

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?," 2007-MAR-23, at: http://fpc.state.gov/
  2. "Europe and Eurasia: Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2006," Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2007-APR-05, at: http://www.state.gov/
  3. "Consular Information Sheet: Slovak Republic," downloaded 2007-MAY-08, at: http://travel.state.gov/
  4. Full report: "Human Rights in the OSCE Region," International Helsinki Federation, at: http://www.ihf-hr.org/
  5. Belarus report: "Human Rights in the OSCE Region," International Helsinki Federation, 2006, Pages 70 & 71, at: http://www.ihf-hr.org/.
  6. "Europe: Discrimination against Roma," Amnesty International," 2007-OCT-25, at: http://www.amnesty.org/
  7. "Italy rebuke on Roma fingerprints," BBC News, 2008-JUL-10, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Copyright © 2007 & 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-MAY-08
Latest update: 2009-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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