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Hysenaj v Albania (third-party intervention, pending)

22 August 2016

Facts

The applicant is a Romani woman whose house was set on fire. The authorities did not inform her about the criminal proceedings against the perpetrators, and as a result she was unable to lodge a civil claim against them.

The ERRC’s Third-Party Intervention

The ERRC urged the Court to name antigypsyism as underlying racist violence against and harassment of Roma in Europe. The Court had to use that word to describe the significance, under the Convention, of acts and omissions of State bodies that might appear isolated or accidental, but, in reality, formed part of and perpetuated a pattern of racial exclusion. The ERRC relied on two definitions of antigypsyism, one provided by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the other more recently formulated by the Alliance Against Antigypsyism. The ERRC then provided a non-exhaustive survey of evidence that Council of Europe Member States were allowing antigypsyism to flourish in the years preceding the events at issue in the present case. The survey covered a wide range of unresolved (and usually improperly investigated) hate crimes across Europe. Moving to the issue of access to justice, the ERRC noted that despite the significant number of improperly investigated hate crimes against Roma in Europe, few cases had made it to the Court in recent years. The ERRC saw this as a symptom of the effects antigypsyism, and particular of institutional racism against Roma within police, prosecutors’ offices, and domestic courts. The ERRC surveyed the evidence showing that Roma and other minorities in Europe had little faith in these institutions and that these institutions were aware of the problem. The ERRC relied in particular on a working paper published by the European Centre for Minority Issues, an NGO, providing the results of a survey among Roma in Albania about their awareness of the justice system and their experiences accessing it. The paper pointed to an institutional failure on the part of the Albanian justice system to provide an appropriate service to Roma, which, in the ERRC’s view, met the definition of institutional racism. The ERRC concluded by urging the Court not to limit itself to examining merely whether an omission had prevented Roma from pursuing justice in a hate-crime case. Such a limited approach ran the risk of implicitly treating the omission as an isolated incident or an accident, when in fact such omissions were part of a broader pattern of racial exclusion; Roma turned to the Court to expose the full extent of that pattern in cases such as these. Instead, the burden was on the Respondent Government to explain precisely how such an omission had happened. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation that the omission was not related to an applicant’s ethnicity, there should be a finding of a violation of Article 14 taken with Article 6 § 1 on the basis that the authorities had deprived Roma of access to justice on grounds of race or ethnicity.

The Court’s statement of facts can be found here.

The ERRC’s third-party intervention can be found here.

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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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