European States Weak on Firm Commitment to Combat anti-Gypsyism

Budapest, 15 December 2016: The ERRC regrets the failure of the OSCE (Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe) participating States to adopt a strong decision on Roma and Sinti and progress on combating anti-Gypsyism at its annual Ministerial Council meeting. The failure to advance social inclusion and the persistent denial of access to justice for Europe’s largest ethnic minority is nothing short of a disgrace.

Despite the 2003 Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area and the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, exclusion of Roma and Sinti communities stands as one of the biggest failures of European values in the 21st Century. Roma and Sinti communities continue to face rights abuses; hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti live under the threat of forced evictions; and are frequently victims of hate crime and police brutality. The latest EU-Midis reports from the Fundamental Rights Agency reveal not just the shocking levels of poverty among Roma, but also the extent of everyday racism and discrimination that results in denial of access to basic services vital to human dignity.  

The ERRC commends the 2016 German OSCE Chairmanship for organizing high-level event on confronting anti-Gypsyism, that rightly concluded that racism, prejudice and hostility against Roma and Sinti are still deeply rooted in our societies and stressed the responsibility of mainstream society and the need to strengthen alliances and build on the role of political leaders to firmly stand up against anti-Gypsyism. The failure by OSCE participating States to adopt a strong decision on Roma and Sinti and progress on combating anti-Gypsyism at its annual Ministerial Council is testament to the lack of political will to invest in sustainable change.

Continued exclusion of Roma and Sinti communities is a scandal in ethical terms; denial of equal opportunities and access to fundamental rights to the young generation of Roma and Sinti runs against the grain of European values and could precipitate a social crisis. This crisis can be averted but time is running out. Last week’s failure is sobering evidence of the government’s unwillingness to learn from, rather than repeat the errors of the last two decades.

We call on OSCE participating States to continue during the 2017 Austrian OSCE Chairmanship, to promote the rights, citizenship and participation of Roma and Sinti across the OSCE region. In particularly, to continue the OSCE work on combating anti-Gypsyism through enhancing Roma and Sinti participation in public and political life, addressing their human rights situation including in crisis and post-crisis situations, and improving access to education, health care, housing and water.

For more information contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
jonathan.lee@errc.org
+36 30 500 2118

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