Council of Europe official decries

07 November 2001

In a strong statement, Ms Josephine Verspaget, Chair of the Specialist Group on Roma/Gypsies of the Council of Europe, stated to the media that, "There are conditions of institutionalised apartheid for many Roma when they are forcefully settled in segregated areas away from the rest of society." This statement came at the end of June 2001 after a three-day stay by Ms Verspaget in Greece that included visits to Romani settlements in Aspropyrgos, Halandri, Marousi, and Spata, according to information provided by the non-governmental organisation Greek Helsinki Monitor, the ERRC local partner in Greece. Ms Verspaget expressed shock at the conditions under which the Roma in these areas of Greece live. She especially stressed the tenuous situation of the Roma relocated to Spata in October 2000, who have no ownership documents or leases for the property on which they live. The site in Spata to which Roma were relocated is a former NATO waste site, possibly containing toxic waste. There is no electricity, no public transportation and no playground for the children in the area. Children are effectively deprived of an education as they live far from any school and are not provided with public transport to get to one. In her statement, Ms Verspaget rebuked local and national authorities for failing to implement international human rights standards for the Roma of Greece.

(ERRC, Greek Helsinki Monitor)

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