Violence against Roma

21 September 2012

Violence against Roma

Reports of violence targeting Roma across Europe are becoming more frequent. These are often set in the context of racist speech against Roma, including by politicians and public officials at the highest levels. Today I’m with Dezideriu Gergely, Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Centre.

Sinan Gokçen: Dezideriu, what are the ERRC’s concerns with this situation?

Dezideriu Gergely: We are concerned that the security and safety of Roma is not being safeguarded, particularly as some of the most recent events have involved law enforcement officials.

In Romania and Slovakia, eight Romani individuals have been shot by on and off-duty police officers, four of whom died. In Bulgaria, a Romani political activist was left critically wounded after a bomb was delivered to his political party’s headquarters. And in the Czech Republic, violent anti-Roma riots take place on a regular basis.

We are concerned that Europe continues to backtrack in ensuring the most basic of fundamental rights for Roma – the right to life.

S.G.: Can you please tell us what is ERRC doing to combat the problem?

D.G.: We are actively monitoring reports of attacks against Roma. We’re following up to find out to what extent the law enforcement agencies are preventing violence, investigating and prosecuting perpetrators unfortunately – in many cases we find that state authorities are not doing enough.

The European Roma Rights Centre is working with local partners to litigate on behalf of Roma victims and seek redress for their human rights. In the last month, as a result of our cases, Russia, Slovakia and Hungary have been found in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. These states did not ensure adequate protection against violence for Roma.

S.G.: Finally, how should States address the problem of violence against Roma?

D.G.: We are urging the states to adopt a zero tolerance policy against racist speech by public officials, politicians and far-right groups. This kind of racist speech should be immediately condemned by governments at the highest level.

Most important of all, governments must protect their citizens, including Roma, and take a firm stance against racially motivated violence. They should guarantee speedy and effective investigations and prosecutions of all crimes committed against Roma. They should identify any racist motives for such acts. Perpetrators must not go unpunished.

Governments should ensure full assistance, protection, and compensation to the victims of violence.

Roma have the right to live in safety and security, and states must act to make this happen. 


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities