“In my two-and-a-half years in office, I have encountered one serious human rights problem in practically every member state - the prolonged exclusion and discrimination of the Roma population. This holds true whether the country is rich or poor, lies within or outside the European Union, and whether its Roma are indigenous or of migrant origin. This shameful situation cannot be further tolerated and could be reversed with a little political will” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on occasion of the international human rights day.
“In 21st century Europe – home to the wealthiest societies on the planet - millions of Roma live in abject poverty and have little access to mainstream education, health, employment, decent housing and political participation. Moreover, they are frequently made scapegoats for society’s problems, targeted by hate crimes and persecuted or abused by law enforcement officials.
Repressive policies against the Roma include frequent evictions of Roma families from their housing in many European states. Such evictions, without adequate alternative solutions and support, result in entire families being made homeless, even during the winter period. Evictions often involve violence. Moreover, they prevent any form of integration, sustainable access to health and social care and deprive children of their right to education.
Interesting initiatives promoting Roma inclusion exist all over Europe: we should build on them and promote them to turn the page on decades of Roma rights violations on the part of public authorities.
In many of my country visits I see the two facets of Roma reality - on the one hand, the exclusion, on the other hand, the encouraging initiatives undertaken to promote Roma empowerment and inclusion. Just yesterday, I visited two Roma settlements in Strasbourg. Strasbourg hosts about 450 migrant Roma, primarily from Romania and Hungary. The Roma population has stabilized in number in Strasbourg, as it has in France overall. In Strasbourg, no forced evictions have taken place in recent months and Roma have not been faced with expulsions to their countries of origin. (more...)