“Ahh, Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia … in 1975-76 when I started school, I was living together with non-Roma, Macedonians, Albanians and Turks in a multiethnic society. As a Rom who was born in Yugoslavia, a country of six republics and two provinces … a man who was born in Kumanovo, I think that Yugoslav socialism was good for Roma … Roma could find work and travel from state to state without any need for special documents …”
The 2016 communication on the EU Roma Framework is the most explicit declaration from Brussels that human rights must come first. In this latest progress update on Roma inclusion, the European Commission reported that in the last year it has “stepped up action” to fight discrimination, segregation and anti-Gypsyism, hate speech and hate crime. The Commission also highlighted the failures of Member States to address the most important housing challenges, namely fighting segregation and preventing forced evictions. With infringement proceedings over school segregation on the go in three Member States, the Commission continues to investigate discrimination in housing and schools in a number of other countries, and stated that it will take action to ensure the Racial Equality Directive is properly transposed and enforced.
The latest ECRI report on Italy confirms that Roma remain targets of hate speech and hate crime, continue to live in conditions of acute marginalisation and discrimination, and are effectively denied access to housing and other social rights. In light of these latest findings, the European Commission needs to investigate Italy for breaches of the Racial Equality Directive. For it is clear from this latest report that all the promptings, recommendations, requests and ‘urgings’ from European bodies to date, have failed to dent Italy’s undeclared apartheid when it comes to Roma.
The deaths of two small Romani children on January 1 and January 3 in Košice’s Luník IX and the Mašličkovo settlement in Slovakia went largely unremarked and unreported in the European media. One child froze to death, the other died in a fire. This last weekend has just brought shocking news of three more child fatalities in another fire in a shack in Slovakia.
The right to adequate housing is a fundamental right and a crucial prerequisite for a decent life and personal development. The record of Slovak authorities on providing adequate housing for its citizens is dismal and Roma are disproportionately affected by this failure.