Stand Up for Roma Rights in Europe

April 8, 2010

Today as the second annual European Union Roma Summit takes place in Spain, it is a reminder that European leaders must confront the pervasive discrimination against millions of Roma across the continent.  Roma people routinely face human rights abuses and EU leaders need to 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 NGOs, has documented the failures of the authorities in a number of European countries to protect Romani communities from discrimination. We’ve documented repeated failures to end segregation of Romani children in education and to guarantee Romani communities’ right to adequate housing.

Amnesty international’s new report published tdoay, Stop forced evictions of Roma in Europe, 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.

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.