Despite the Roma-only camps, the Roma-only emergency shelters, despite all the evictions and all the discrimination faced by Roma, Italy remains unpunished for its transgressions. To date, no action has been taken by the European Commission to signal its discontent with the undeclared apartheid that persists in this large and powerful EU member state.
- “Forced evictions are not a Roma rights issue”
That was the prevailing belief at the ERRC about two years ago. Here are some of the reasons the ERRC refused to spend time or money on forced evictions:
- Evictions are about poverty, not about discrimination.
- It looks bad. To be more specific:
- We need stop making Roma look like victims, and instead focus on Roma who do things like fight to integrate their schools.
- Forced evictions pit Roma lawbreakers against landowners with property rights. (“What if someone decided to live in your garden”, someone who didn’t like our forced evictions work once told me. “I bet you’d call the police”.)
- We are making it look like Roma want to live in squalor.
Just one week after the Fidesz government launched its latest brazen assault on Hungarian NGOs specifically targeting the Helsinki Committee, the Committee scored a victory against the state in Strasbourg. In a judgment in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary issued on 17 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that the Hungarian State violated Article 8 of the Convention in the wake of violent incidents in the village of Devecser, during an anti-Roma demonstration attended by nine far-right groups and members of Jobbik. The applicants were awarded EUR 10,700 each in damages, and the ECtHR sent a clear message to the Hungarian Government about its positive obligations and abject failures to protect Roma communities from intimidation by far-right extremists.
Two of Myzejen Alushi’s five children are growing up in state care institutions in Tirana, over 100 kilometres from their family home in Fier in south-western Albania. Myzejen is half Egyptian and her husband Lulush is Roma; their children were taken away and placed in separate institutions without any court decision; and the Alushis are still the legal guardians of eleven-year-old M.D. and five-year-old Sh.A. This is the story of their struggle to get their children back home.
In Bulgaria, racist hate crimes have become more and more the norm for Roma, refugees and other local minorities. Yet, this increased prevalence has only further relegated the issue of acknowledging and tackling racially motivated crime on judicial, public and civic agendas. In courtrooms, government offices, police stations and cafés across the country, “the invisible crime” has been the elephant in the room, which until very recently had been ushered discreetly into a cupboard, out of sight but not out of mind.