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Czech Republic: urgent action needed to protect Roma from racist extremism

Letter to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

Strasbourg 18/03/2014

"I am deeply concerned about the emerging pattern of anti-Roma events in the Czech Republic – many led by racist extremists groups and organised simultaneously in different localities across the country. Their increased frequency and determined rhetoric against the Roma community call for a comprehensive response from the Czech authorities," said today Nis Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, publishing a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr Bohuslav Sobotka.

Anti-Roma demonstrations have become a recurring phenomenon in the country. "There is a continuing, worrying trend of violence targeting the Roma. Only last year, 22 Roma were physically attacked, following earlier waves of anti-Roma demonstrations, including those of 2011, which ended in riots and arson attacks."

"Czech authorities must take preventive measures to protect democratic values from the dangers posed by extremist groups. Measures should include the effective sanctioning of organisations that promote racial discrimination, and banning demonstrations in the vicinity of Roma neighbourhoods when there are indications that the participants intend to march towards these neighbourhoods with the aim of targeting Roma communities."

Lastly, the Commissioner noted that the widespread discrimination and violence against Roma requires overarching efforts to promote tolerance and anti-discriminatory attitudes throughout the majority population. "Political and opinion leaders have an essential role to play to promote respect for human rights and social cohesion."

The Commissioner covered the issue of institutionalised anti-Gypsyism and racially motivated violence against Roma in his February 2013 report on the Czech Republic.

Letter to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Bohuslav Sobotka

Reply of M. Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic