“Romania needs to put an end to anti-Gypsyism” says Commissioner Hammarberg

Strasbourg, 15/10/10  – “Without resolute action to stamp out anti-Gypsyism, it will not be possible to help many Romanian Roma out of social exclusion and marginalisation.” After a three-day visit to Romania focused on the human rights of Roma, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, finds that the country needs a set of comprehensive measures to tackle pervasive discrimination against Roma.

With international attention focused on Roma and reflected domestically, Commissioner Hammarberg believes that Romania should not miss out on an opportunity to advance Roma inclusion. “The necessary legal and institutional frameworks are in place, but anti-Roma sentiment in political discourse and the media is still a major problem”. Prejudices among the majority population remain strong and have negative repercussions on the lives of many Roma.

Rather than discussing which term should be used to designate the Roma population, emphasis should be put on educating the general public about Roma history. The slavery they were subjected to in Romania for several centuries, their mass deportation and extermination during the second World War and their forced assimilation during the Communist period have put them in an inferior position, the consequences of which they are still suffering from today.

Local administrations and NGOs have a key role to play in the inclusion of Roma. Currently, however, they cannot make full use of the resources available at European level as bureaucratic requirements frequently form an obstacle to accessing EU funds. Local authorities need to be active and efficient in developing projects for the improvement of the situation of Roma who are deeply disadvantaged in various fields, not least as regards access to education, employment, health care and housing.

Until this is done, Roma will continue to be forced to leave Romania in search of a better life elsewhere. When they do, their rights, including freedom of movement, must be fully respected, without discrimination. “There is an obvious European dimension to the issue of Roma inclusion in any national context”, Commissioner Hammarberg said.

During the visit, Commissioner Hammarberg held discussions with a number of non-governmental organisations and visited Roma communities in the municipality of Barbulesti and the Bucharest neighbourhood of Ferentari.

He also held discussions with a number of authorities including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Teodor Baconschi, the State Secretary at the Ministry for Labour, Family and Social Affairs, Mr. Valentin Mocanu and the State Secretary at the Ministry for Administration and Interior, Mr. Dan Fătuloiu. He also met with the President of the National Agency for Roma, Mr. Ilie Dincă, the Director General of the National Centre for Roma Culture, Ms. Mihaela Zătreanu and the President of the National Council for Combating Discrimination, Mr. Asztalos Csaba Ferenc.

Photo gallery of the visit

Press contact in the Commissioner’s Office:
Stefano Montanari, +33 (0)6 61 14 70 37; stefano.montanari@coe.int

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