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"G" is for Gypsy on Czech records

7 December 1999

Following an article in the Czech weekly Respekt, the Czech media reported on October 19, 1999, that Czech Airlines had confirmed that until mid-1999, the company marked lists of passengers with the letter "G" for "Gypsy" next to names of persons they believed to be Roma. The lists were reportedly intended for use by British authorities. Mr David Thomas, the manager of Czech Airlines at London's Heathrow Airport told members of the press that tickets belonging to Romani passengers were marked by staff in order to warn British immigration officials of potential asylum-seekers. Mr Thomas told the Czech News Agency on Monday that airline staff regularly marked tickets with the letter "G" for "Gypsy" if passengers had Romani-sounding names or looked Romani. Mr Ladislav Weidner, the airline´s chief representative in London, said the practice had been discontinued in spring 1999. All Czech Airlines officials quoted by the press denied allegations that the measures had been discriminatory against Roma. British officials denied that they sought the information. Czech Romani activists subsequently undertook a campaign to distribute badges with the letter "G" on them for people to wear while crossing international borders. The following week, on October 26 and 27, Czech media reported that "for years", Czech unemployment offices had pursued the practice of marking persons who appeared to be Romani with an "R". The private television station TV Nova reportedly procured lists of Romani job-seekers from offices in Prague and the southern Czech city of České BudÄ›jovice, indicating that authorities were keeping records of the ethnicity of applicants. Social and Labor Affairs Minister Vladimír Ĺ pidla told the daily Lidové Noviny on October 27 that he did not know about the practice. He added that action should be taken "as quickly as possible" against those offices that use such techniques. The practice of keeping records on ethnicity was widespread during Communism, but is widely held to have been discontinued after 1989. Various Czech politicians denied that documenting ethnicity indicated racial discrimination on the part of Czech authorities. ERRC research conducted in 1999 into the situation of Roma in the school system indicated that the practice of registering the ethnicity of Romani pupils is widespread in the Czech Republic.

(ČTK, ERRC, Lidové noviny, Radio Prague, Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty, TV Nova)

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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