Blatant racism continues to blight the life of Europe’s Roma people, who remain far behind other communities, according to a new report published today.
The 47 state, 254 page survey confirms that Roma and Travellers are still denied basic human rights. They remain far behind others in education, employment, access to decent housing and health. Their average life span is shorter and infant mortality rates are higher compared to other groups.
“I hope the report will encourage a constructive discussion about policies towards Roma and Travellers in Europe, focusing on what must be done in order to put an end to the discrimination and marginalisation they suffer and to foster their social inclusion,” said the Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing the report ‘Human rights of Roma and Travellers in Europe.’
Hammarberg also recommends that truth commissions be created – ideally as a Europe-wide undertaking – to establish the historical facts concerning the atrocities committed against the Roma people.
The report is the first overview of the human rights situation of Roma and Travellers in all 47 member states of the Council of Europe. The Roma and related minority communities constitute Europe’s largest and most vulnerable minority.
Hammarberg’s report reveals that anti-Gypsyism continues to be widespread. Public leaders, media, and extremist groups who are active on the Internet have overly singled-out Roma and Travellers for hate speech. In some cases, these words have been understood as encouraging violent action.
“This feeds the cycle of disadvantage, exclusion, segregation and marginalisation,” he declares.
The thematic report focuses on anti-Gypsyism, racially motivated violence, conduct of law enforcement and judicial authorities, forced sterilisations, removal of children from the care of their biological parents, economic and social rights, statelessness and freedom of movement.
Hammarberg states: “The problem of statelessness and lack of personal documentation for thousands of Roma in Europe is one of the issues which must be urgently addressed with determination, as these persons are deprived of basic rights such as education, healthcare, social assistance and the right to vote.”
The commissioner proposes measures to be taken by governments to bring an end to the discrimination. These include the provision of targeted training to the police to prevent misconduct, desegregating schools and improving the quality of education received by Roma and Traveller children.
Video: Thomas Hammarberg discusses his report on Roma
Report: Human rights of Roma and Travellers in Europe
Image: Hammarberg report front cover
Information: The Commissioner for Human Rights thematic file
Fact Sheet: European Court of Human Rights on Roma and Travellers
News: Roma people on HRE
Video: Roma mediators
Podcast: Roma youth conference – The momentum for change
Podcast: Live from the Mayors’ Summit on Roma