Life Sentence: Romani Children in Institutional Care

Romani children are overrepresented in institutional care compared to their proportion of the population as a whole in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia. All six countries have adopted specific laws which govern child protection matters, with the best interests of the child as the prevailing legal principle. Detailed descriptions of child endangerment and clear methodological guidelines for its assessment are lacking in all countries, which provides significant opportunity for the mis-application or subjective interpretation of relevant provisions by child protection and social workers. Many factors contribute to the overrepresentation of Romani children in institutional care, including discrimination, poverty and material conditions (such as unemployment, indebtedness and inadequate housing), school absenteeism, single parenthood and unwanted pregnancies and migration. Child abuse was considered a very small factor in the placement of Romani children in State care. Preventative measures are often inadequate, there are an insufficient number of skilled social workers and an absence of community level prevention services in isolated Romani neighbourhoods due to insufficient funding. Romani children experience physical abuse, ill-treatment and ethnic discrimination in and out of the homes. Most homes do not offer programmes to support the development of Roma ethnic identity. Given that a disproportionate number of Romani children are in institutional care, that they are unlikely to return to their biological families, and that many are passed up for adoption, a great proportion of Romani children spend their whole childhood in an institutional setting. Romani children are disadvantaged on multiple grounds when it comes to child protection placement, in-care treatment and leaving, including on the basis of their ethnicity, poverty, disability, and institutionalised child status. The existing system creates a cycle from which it is hard if not impossible to escape.

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Roma Rights 1 2017: Roma and Conflict: Understanding the Impact of War and Political Violence

16 May 2017

The impact of conflict on minority populations merits special attention, especially if those minorities have long been marginalized, viewed by the warring parties with a mixture of ambivalence and contempt, and deemed to be communities of little consequence in the peace-building processes that follow the conclusion of hostilities. This issue of Roma Rights Journal takes a look at the fate of Roma during and after conflicts.

Sometimes Roma have been the direct targets of murderous aggression or subject to reprisals. Then there have been the many times where individual Roma actively took a side, but too often the roles played by Roma, Travellers and other minorities were elided from the dominant national narratives that followed.

In many conflicts, caught between warring groups with no foreign power or military alliance to champion their claims, Roma found themselves displaced, despised and declaimed as bogus refugees, nomads and “mere” economic migrants in the aftermath.

As long as Europe’s largest ethnic minority is written out and rendered invisible in the histories of Europe’s wars and conflicts; and excluded from the politics of reconstruction and peace-making, the continent’s self-understanding will remain fatally flawed.

Editors: Marek Szilvasi, Kieran O’Reilly, Bernard Rorke

Roma Rights 1 2017 (PDF)

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Macron Election Call Out

5 May 2017

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ERRC submission to UN CERD on Bulgaria (April 2017)

20 April 2017

Written Comments by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) concerning Bulgaria to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, for consideration at its 92nd session (24 April - 12 May 2017)

 

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