Roma in Poland express concerns to parliament

15 May 1998

The BBC reported on March 21, 1998, that a press conference had been held in the Sejm (the lower house of parliament) in Warsaw, Poland, during which representatives of the Polish Romani community had expressed concern about discrimination against the Romani population in Poland. The Romani speakers pointed out that discrimination against them occurs in employment, in the allocation of social welfare payments and in the distribution of aid by local authorities to victims of the floods which devastated large areas of the country last summer. Romani representatives also presented numerous cases of abuse by police and said that police had failed to react to attacks against them by groups of hooligans.

Chairman of the Sejm Commission for National and Ethnic Minorities, Mr Jacek Kuron, reportedly stated that aggression against Roma in Poland had intensified over the past years, and that Roma were the only minority in Poland towards whom the attitude of the authorities had not changed for the better. According to the BBC, Mr Kuron had said that the immediate appointment of a prime minister's plenipotentiary and a council for minority affairs would enable the problems of Roma to be solved.

The ERRC welcomes the attention paid by such prominent figures as Mr Kuron to the thus far widely neglected problems faced by Roma in Poland, and looks forward to action aimed at improving the precarious situation of Polish Roma. Earlier attention by Polish authorities to the issue of the position of Roma in Poland had primarily comprised reports by an Office for National Minorities in the Ministry of Culture and Arts. The need for a survey of the social situation recurs in several successive yearly reports by the Office, and portions of the text also recur, prompting suspicion by observers that the Office was not doing very much. The situation of Roma in Poland is the subject of a forthcoming report by the ERRC.



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