Note from the Executive Director
Welcome to the ERRC’s website! You will find information here about the tremendous work we are doing to contribute to the emancipation of Roma. I joined the ERRC in October 2014 and since then we have seen exciting changes in the way we work. Previously, the ERRC organised itself in country teams, intervening in those places where Roma rights are least respected in order to effect change. We have reorganised ourselves in thematic-based project teams, to take advantage of our European expertise. These are the projects that we are working on and what we hope to accomplish:
Roma Inclusion Policies
States improve the implementation of their national Roma strategies or action plans so as to improve the overall living conditions of Romani communities.
Spending of EU Funds
EU funds are no longer used for discriminating against or segregating Roma or for other violations of the fundamental rights of Roma.
State authorities take novel and effective measures to give effect to laws prohibiting school segregation.
School curricula, textbooks, teachers’ handbooks, student assessments, and other teaching materials do not contain racist, segregationist, misleading, or poorly informed contents about Roma, and instead provide appropriate information on Roma communities.
Police Harassment and Violence
Institutional racism (including racial profiling and failure to deal with anti-Roma hate crime) within law enforcement is exposed and State authorities take steps to eliminate it.
Statelessness and Lack of Personal Identity Documents
States amend laws and policies and/or introduce programmes to reduce statelessness among Roma and ensure that all Roma have access to personal documents in a simplified and affordable manner, including by providing individual assistance to those concerned.
Access to Adequate Housing
States ensure that current social housing and other social assistance programmes do not prevent Roma from living in integrated residential communities, and States introduce new programmes to ensure that Roma are able live in such communities.
Children in State Care
States change their policies and practices so that Roma families less frequently see their children taken into care and more frequently receive support to ensure that the best interests of their children are served.
EU Free Movement
Roma with EU citizenship are able to exercise their rights fully when making use of their freedom of movement within the European Union.
The Right to Leave One’s Own Country
Roma who do not hold the nationality of an EU Member States are able to exercise fully their right to leave their own country and to ask for asylum in the EU.
Women’s Reproductive Rights and Access to Reproductive Health
State authorities ensure Romani girls’ and women’s enjoyment of reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care without discrimination. This includes the prohibition of, and appropriate compensation for, involuntary strerilisation, and the prohibition of segregation in reproductive health care.
Disaggregated Data Collection
States collect data disaggregated by ethnicity on how Roma fare in various areas of life in order to enable them to identify where discrimination exists and combat it.
* * *
The ERRC has a unique set of tools to accomplish these ambitious goals. Famously, we use strategic litigation (a concept which we have recently defined more carefully). This is our “licence to kill”: we are the only organisation at European level taking the segregationists and discriminators who oppress Roma to court. The fact the litigation is such a key tool for us though is a reflection of our rights-based approach. We believe that the emancipation of Roma will happen through recognition of the rights that European States have already agreed to respect, including the right to be free from discrimination based on race or ethnicity. All of work, including our research, has this approach. And everything we do is best described under the umbrella of “advocacy”: the final product of all of our work is to impress upon States the ways they must change in order to ensure that Roma become equal members of our societies.
I am confident the next few years will bring us exciting breakthroughs in areas such as housing segregation, police violence, and reproductive rights. Please follow our work by checking our website and following us on Facebook and Twitter.
András Ujlaky, Executive Director