UN Concerned at Situation of Roma in Germany - Human Rights Committee speaks out on Roma Rights in Germany

18 June 2004

Human Rights Committee speaks out on Roma Rights in Germany

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) welcomes the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Germany's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Committee expressed concern that "the Roma continue to suffer prejudice and discrimination, particularly with regard to access to housing and employment", and recommended that the German government "intensify its efforts to integrate Roma communities in Germany in a manner respectful of their cultural identity, in particular through the adoption of positive action with regard to housing, employment and education".

The Committee also noted that "Roma are disproportionately affected by deportation and other measures to return foreigners to their countries of origin (article 26 and 27 of the Covenant)", and recommended that the State party "should guarantee the principle of non-discrimination in its practice relating to deportation and return of foreigners to their countries of origin".

On the occasion of the release of the Committee's findings, ERRC Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova said: "The Committee joins a growing chorus of voices very concerned at Germany's treatment of migrants and refugees -- Romani migrants and refugees in particular -- as well as its failure to date to combat racial discrimination against Roma. We in the Roma rights community call on the German government finally to join the ranks of governments taking seriously the need to act positively and in thorough-going fashion to combat human rights abuse of Roma."

Petrova went on to note specifically that "It is to Germany's shame that the European Union's most powerful Member State has not only missed deadlines to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in conformity with EU rules, but also apparently does not at present have a publicly available draft law."

Commenting on Germany's general failure to date to combat human rights abuse of Roma, ERRC Advocacy Officer Virgil-Cristi Mihalache said: "Germany has explicitly excluded non-citizen Roma from minority rights protections in Germany. We wonder when the German government will remove this arbitrary distinction, which in practice has only served to divide Roma into 'deserving' and undeserving'."

ERRC Programmes Director Claude Cahn added: "Germany is among those governments which have not yet identified Roma as a target group for social inclusion, within European Union National Action Plan frameworks to combat social exclusion, despite evident need. The Human Rights Committee findings provide an important opportunity for the German government to act finally to combat the social exclusion of Roma, by committing publicly to include Roma in its next National Action Plan."

The full text of the UN Committee's Concluding Observations is available HERE.

An ERRC submission presented to the UN Human Rights Committee in advance of the review summarises a number of concerns with respect to the treatment of Sinti and Roma in Germany in areas of relevance to the Covenant. The full text of the ERRC written comments is available on the Internet at: http://errc.org.

For further information, please contact the offices of the ERRC: (361)413-2200


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