Making Human Rights for Roma a reality

During 2010, the European public saw for the first time the reality of life for Roma as television bulletins showed families awaiting expulsion from Western Europe back to their countries of origin. A community that had been invisible were suddenly in the public eye, with the reality of their condition plain for all to see.

Some 10 - 12 million Roma people are estimated to live in Europe, present in each country. They are amongst the most deprived of all communities, facing daily discrimination and racial insults, living in extreme poverty and exclusion from the normal life that other people take for granted – going to school, seeing the doctor, applying for a job or having decent housing. Past efforts to help them have not brought the hoped-for results, and although laws do exist in Europe, they all too often fail to make an impact on the daily lives of Roma families.

The events of 2010 prompted Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland to propose a fresh approach, calling together all those involved – governments, the European Union and the Roma themselves - in a High Level Meeting. It resulted in a joint pledge to cooperate on Roma issues and practical, easy to implement schemes which involve Roma communities in building a better future.

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Czech Republic makes progress, but more action needed to fight discrimination against Roma children’s education

12/03/2015
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The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma issues appreciates the message issued today by the Committee of Ministers to the government of the Czech Republic to fully execute the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in D.H. and Others vs The Czech Republic, so that the unjustified enrolment of Roma children in “special” (so-called now ‘practical”) schools and programmes intended for pupils with learning disabilities ends. The SRSG understands that fighting discrimination can be a complex challenge that requires both changes in attitude, as well as changes in law – and the full support of civil society. He welcomes action plans that have been put forward by the Czech government to stop such discrimination. When this case was brought to the attention of our Court, Roma children in the Czech Republic were 27 times more likely to be placed in "special schools" for the mentally disabled than non-Roma children. Today statistics show a constant, annual decrease in the total number of pupils (Roma and non-Roma) in special schools or classes from 17,755 in 2008 to 10,695 in 2014. But we would like to see more progress when it comes to Roma children. Despite this decrease, the proportion of Roma pupils in special schools or classes increased from 28.2% (previous year) to 32.4% (school year 2014/2015). Furthermore, the percentage of Roma children in mainstream classes decreased from 10.3% (previous year) to 9.5% (school year 2014/2015).

 

The SRSG welcomes the Committee of Ministers’ invitation to the Czech authorities to provide, no later than by 1 September 2015, information on the strategy they envisage to implement a new legislative framework, and, by 5 February 2016, an update with the most recent statistics concerning the education of Roma pupils in groups/classes for pupils with “mild mental disability” and information responding to the other concerns.

 

In the meantime, the Council of Europe’s Roma initiatives to foster inclusive education of Roma children will continue across Europe, including in the Czech Republic. The joint CoE/EU ROMED programme promotes Roma mediation as an effective tool to increase the number of Roma children in mainstream education (more on ROMED at http://romed.coe-romact.org/). The Ad hoc Committee of experts on Roma issues (CAHROM) has addressed school segregation in the Czech Republic in its thematic work (http://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/cahrom). The CoE is also currently financially supporting (through a Finnish voluntary contribution) the five-year old project “Every child matters: high quality education for all” which consists  in  training Czech teachers on inclusive education for Roma children from Primary Schools Grafická in Prague, Trmice near Ústí nad Labem and Poběžovice by teachers from the Babington Community College in Leicester, United Kingdom (more on this bilateral exchange in the online database on Roma-related good practices: http://goodpracticeroma.ppa.coe.int/en/good-practice/every-child-matters-high-quality-education-all).


International Roma calendar International Roma calendar
Tools and texts of reference Tools and texts of reference

The term "Roma" used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as "Gypsies":

CAHROM CAHROM

Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM)

Good practices database Good practices database

Database on Roma-related policies and good practices:

ROMACT ROMACT

The ROMACT Joint Pogramme of the Council of Europe and European Commission aims to strengthen the capacity of local and regional authorities (targeting both elected officials and senior civil servants) to develop and implement plans and projects for Roma inclusion.
 

ROMED ROMED

The European Training Programme for Roma Mediators (ROMED) aims to reinforce mediators' skills to facilitate communication and cooperation between Roma and public institutions, especially schools, health services and employment offices.

Lawyers training Lawyers training

Professional training of lawyers involved in the defence of Roma and Travellers' rights

Roma women Roma women

Roma women are a quiet but strong force for change, both a change in the fate of their communities' lives, as well as in their condition as women facing multiple discrimination. Empowering Roma women through trainings and international Conferences is among the Council of Europe priorities

Roma youth and internship Roma youth and internship

Working closely together with Roma youth and the CoE/OSI sponsored internship scheme

Roma History and Culture Roma History and Culture

Public knowledge about the history and culture of Roma is still marginal among ordinary people. National governments and international organisations are trying to overcome segregation, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Roma and to integrate them into society. One of the keys for integration is education of both Roma and non-Roma. An integral part of this educational process is mutual knowledge about the common history and culture of Roma and non-Roma in Europe.

Archive Archive

The following websites contain a wealth of reference texts and materials, which will be gradually moved onto the new Roma website: