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Violence Against Roma on the Rise: ERRC Testifies

16 February 2012

Violence Against Roma on the Rise: ERRC Testifies

Budapest, Washington, 16 February 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) made a statement on the escalation of violence against Roma at a hearing in Washington DC yesterday.

ERRC Executive Director Dezideriu Gergely testified about the on-going violence against Roma and the lack of adequate state response at a hearing held by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (US Helsinki Commission).

A recent European Union Survey on Minorities and Discrimination highlights that on average one in five Roma respondents were victims of racially motivated personal crime at least once in the previous 12 months. 81% of Roma who indicated they were victims of assault, threat or serious harassment considered that their victimisation was racially motivated.

An ERRC report in 2011 found that the state rarely achieved successful prosecutions in cases of violence against Roma.  In 2011, the European Roma Rights Centre published a report looking at the state response to 44 violent attacks against Roma in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

It found that a limited number of perpetrators of violent attacks against Roma are successfully identified, investigated and prosecuted. Even fewer are eventually imprisoned for the crimes they have committed against Roma. At the time of publication, judgments finding the perpetrators guilty had been reached in nine of the 44 selected cases.

The ERRC highlighted the ways that the US could assist the on-going integration of Roma in Europe, by offering the assistance of US law enforcement in addressing bias crimes against Roma; offering good practice examples of promoting minority inclusion in education, housing, healthcare and employment; and offering financial assistance to civil society organisations in Europe addressing anti-Roma discrimination and rights violations.

Andrzej Mirga, Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues at the OSCE also testified at the hearing. He emphasised that Roma issues are not disconnected from the challenges currently facing Europe as a whole. The financial difficulties of the region have a direct impact on the most vulnerable communities, especially in access to work and education. Investing in youth and empowering Roma communities at the local level are key steps to tackle some of these issues. In addition, European institutions need to take a long-term approach and monitor the many policies and measures put in place to improve the situation of Roma.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gokçen
ERRC Media and Communications Officer
sinan.gokcen@errc.org
+36.30.500.1324

[Dezideriu’s speech “US Helsinki Commission Hearing: The Escalation of Violence against Roma in Europe” can be viewed from 18:27]

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