Strasbourg, 15 February 2006

CommDH(2006)1

 

Original version

   

ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION OF

THE ROMA, SINTI AND TRAVELLERS IN EUROPE

FOREWORD

Recommendations related to housing

    · As a matter of priority, it must be ensured that alternative accommodation is provided, on equal terms with other citizens, to those Roma who live in settlements which are hazardous to the health of the inhabitants.

    · Appropriate infrastructure, including electricity, roads, clean water and garbage removal, must be put in place in settlements where such infrastructure does not exist; urgent measures are needed to ensure adequate living conditions in winter time.

    · Policies of segregating Roma communities in settlements outside otherwise inhabited areas must be ended and, when needed, reverted.

    · Central authorities should intervene more actively in situations where implementation of housing projects for the Roma is hampered by local authorities and local majority populations.

    · Initiatives should be launched to promote tolerance and regular contacts between the Roma and non-Roma populations.

    · Anti-discrimination legislation in the field of private and public housing must be enacted or strengthened while special measures must be taken to ensure that seemingly neutral allocation criteria do not negatively affect Roma populations.

    · With regard to travelling Roma, it is important to ensure that there is a sufficient number of camping sites with adequate facilities; that sanctions imposed for illegal camping are not disproportional; and that if eviction is unavoidable, consideration is given to the particular circumstances of the persons concerned.

curriculum while isolating them from other pupils is clearly a distorted response. Instead of segregation, significant emphasis should be placed on measures such as pre-school and in-school educational and linguistic support as well as the provision of school assistants to work alongside teachers.

Recommendations related to education

    · As a matter of priority, access to adequate education must be ensured for children and youth living in isolated settlements, through, for instance, the provision of transportation to regular schools.

    · Where segregated education still exists in one form or another, it must be replaced by regular integrated education and, where appropriate, banned through legislation. Adequate resources must be made available for the provision of pre-school education, language training and school assistant training in order to ensure the success of desegregation efforts.

    · Adequate assessment must be made before children are placed in special classes, in order to ensure that the sole criteria in the placement is the objective needs of the child, not his or her ethnicity.

    · Measures must be taken to remove the existing legal and bureaucratic obstacles leading to school non-attendance and drop-outs, such as lack of identity documents and residence permits.

    · Special efforts must be undertaken to stop harassment of Roma children in schools, and to facilitate regular contacts between Roma and non-Roma pupils.

    · Efforts should be undertaken to enhance the awareness of the importance of education within such Roma communities, which have been traditionally excluded from educational opportunities. Where appropriate, a system of Roma mediators could be created to liaise between schools and families, in order to overcome difficulties in access to education.

    · Programmes to overcome illiteracy among adult members of Roma communities should be promoted.

Recommendations related to employment

    · As a first step, it is necessary to ensure that national legislation provides for effective protection against discrimination in the field of employment, and that such legislation is effectively implemented.

    · Due to the difficulties of the job applicants to provide evidence of the employer’s motivations for refusing employment, it is important that states, which have not yet done so, modify their legislation so that the burden of proof in discrimination cases is extended to be shouldered by the employer as well.

    · Special measures should be taken to promote the recruitment of Roma particularly within public administration.

    · Deficiencies in educational levels, caused by unequal access to education, must be remedied through training and retraining programmes.

Recommendations related to health care

    · As a matter of priority, particular emphasis must be placed on ensuring that persons living in isolated settlements have access to adequate health care services which cover both emergency and regular health care (including preventive care and vaccinations).

    · Measures must be taken to ensure that discriminatory attitudes do not impede access to health services, and that all patients are treated in an equal manner and in the same facilities.

    · The process of obtaining personal documentation required for health care services must be facilitated.

    · Any allegations of improper practices in the field of health care, such as sterilisations without informed consent, must be effectively investigated while the responsibility for such practices should be ascertained and compensation provided. Other remedies than court proceedings should also be considered such as an independent commission of inquiry.

Recommendations related to responses against racially-motivated violence and relations with law-enforcement authorities

    · Racially-motivated violence against the Roma must be strongly condemned at the highest political level, and sanctions for such violence must be commensurate with the severity of the acts. When needed, special investigative units should be created to examine and address such violence.

    · As regards allegations of improper behaviour by the police, including excessive use of force, it must be ensured that investigations are conducted by an independent and impartial body. Special emphasis must be placed on examining whether ethnic hatred or prejudice has played a role in violent behaviour by the police.

    · Law-enforcement authorities should be provided with regular training on human rights law including anti-discrimination legislation. Such training should also provide information on minority cultures.

    · Measures should be taken to enhance the preparatory training and recruitment of Roma individuals to the police force and the judiciary. In many countries, special initiatives should be taken to improve relations between the police and the Roma.

meet many IDPs, both Roma and non-Roma, in extremely precarious conditions during my visit to Serbia in 2002. It is certainly worrying to note that their situation has not greatly improved over the last few years.

Recommendations related to displacement, asylum and
trafficking in human beings

      · It must be ensured that no forced returns of displaced Roma and other minorities are undertaken to areas where they continue to face threats to their safety and security. As an absolute minimum, no-one should be returned to an area where he or she may be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ascertained through an effective and independent examination of claims.

      · Where returns take place, they must be conducted in a manner respecting the rights and dignity of the person concerned, and only when conditions are conducive for a safe and sustainable return.

      · Particular vigilance is required to ensure that measures introduced to limit illegal migration do not violate the principles of non-discrimination and equality before the law. In particular, any policies or practices restricting the issuance of visas or entry into countries on the basis of the individual’s ethnicity must be ended.

      · Serious measures must be taken to tackle the root causes of trafficking in human beings, including the particular vulnerabilities of some Roma communities.

      · Criminal networks and their members as well as parents who sell their children for the criminal purposes of prostitution and organised begging should be actively targeted and pursued. It is necessary that the police act in a co-ordinated manner at national and European level in this field.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Recommendations related to housing

    · As a matter of priority, it must be ensured that alternative accommodation is provided, on equal terms with other citizens, to those Roma who live in settlements which are hazardous to the health of the inhabitants.

    · Appropriate infrastructure, including electricity, roads, clean water and garbage removal, must be put in place in settlements where such infrastructure does not exist; urgent measures are needed to ensure adequate living conditions in winter time.

    · Policies of segregating Roma communities in settlements outside otherwise inhabited areas must be ended and, when needed, reverted.

    · Central authorities should intervene more actively in situations where implementation of housing projects for the Roma is hampered by local authorities and local majority populations.

    · Initiatives should be launched to promote tolerance and regular contacts between the Roma and non-Roma populations.

    · Anti-discrimination legislation in the field of private and public housing must be enacted or strengthened while special measures must be taken to ensure that seemingly neutral allocation criteria do not negatively affect Roma populations.

    · With regard to travelling Roma, it is important to ensure that there is a sufficient number of camping sites with adequate facilities; that sanctions imposed for illegal camping are not disproportional; and that if eviction is unavoidable, consideration is given to the particular circumstances of the persons concerned.

Recommendations related to education

    · As a matter of priority, access to adequate education must be ensured for children and youth living in isolated settlements, through, for instance, the provision of transportation to regular schools.

    · Where segregated education still exists in one form or another, it must be replaced by regular integrated education and, where appropriate, banned through legislation. Adequate resources must be made available for the provision of pre-school education, language training and school assistant training in order to ensure the success of desegregation efforts.

    · Adequate assessment must be made before children are placed in special classes, in order to ensure that the sole criteria in the placement is the objective needs of the child, not his or her ethnicity.

    · Measures must be taken to remove the existing legal and bureaucratic obstacles leading to school non-attendance and drop-outs, such as lack of identity documents and residence permits.

    · Special efforts must be undertaken to stop harassment of Roma children in schools, and to facilitate regular contacts between Roma and non-Roma pupils.

    · Efforts should be undertaken to enhance the awareness of the importance of education within such Roma communities, which have been traditionally excluded from educational opportunities. Where appropriate, a system of Roma mediators could be created to liaise between schools and families, in order to overcome difficulties in access to education.

    · Programmes to overcome illiteracy among adult members of Roma communities should be promoted.

Recommendations related to employment

    · As a first step, it is necessary to ensure that national legislation provides for effective protection against discrimination in the field of employment, and that such legislation is effectively implemented.

    · Due to the difficulties of the job applicants to provide evidence of the employer’s motivations for refusing employment, it is important that states, which have not yet done so, modify their legislation so that the burden of proof in discrimination cases is extended to be shouldered by the employer as well.

    · Special measures should be taken to promote the recruitment of Roma particularly within public administration.

    · Deficiencies in educational levels, caused by unequal access to education, must be remedied through training and retraining programmes.

Recommendations related to health care

    · As a matter of priority, particular emphasis must be placed on ensuring that persons living in isolated settlements have access to adequate health care services which cover both emergency and regular health care (including preventive care and vaccinations).

    · Measures must be taken to ensure that discriminatory attitudes do not impede access to health services, and that all patients are treated in an equal manner and in the same facilities.

    · The process of obtaining personal documentation required for health care services must be facilitated.

    · Any allegations of improper practices in the field of health care, such as sterilisations without informed consent, must be effectively investigated while the responsibility for such practices should be ascertained and compensation provided. Other remedies than court proceedings should also be considered such as an independent commission of inquiry.

Recommendations related to responses against racially-motivated violence and relations with law-enforcement authorities

    · Racially-motivated violence against the Roma must be strongly condemned at the highest political level, and sanctions for such violence must be commensurate with the severity of the acts. When needed, special investigative units should be created to examine and address such violence.

    · As regards allegations of improper behaviour by the police, including excessive use of force, it must be ensured that investigations are conducted by an independent and impartial body. Special emphasis must be placed on examining whether ethnic hatred or prejudice has played a role in violent behaviour by the police.

    · Law-enforcement authorities should be provided with regular training on human rights law including anti-discrimination legislation. Such training should also provide information on minority cultures.

    · Measures should be taken to enhance the preparatory training and recruitment of Roma individuals to the police force and the judiciary. In many countries, special initiatives should be taken to improve relations between the police and the Roma.

Recommendations related to displacement, asylum and

trafficking in human beings

      · It must be ensured that no forced returns of displaced Roma and other minorities are undertaken to areas where they continue to face threats to their safety and security. As an absolute minimum, no-one should be returned to an area where he or she may be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ascertained through an effective and independent examination of claims.

      · Where returns take place, they must be conducted in a manner respecting the rights and dignity of the person concerned, and only when conditions are conducive for a safe and sustainable return.

      · Particular vigilance is required to ensure that measures introduced to limit illegal migration do not violate the principles of non-discrimination and equality before the law. In particular, any policies or practices restricting the issuance of visas or entry into countries on the basis of the individual’s ethnicity must be ended.

      · Serious measures must be taken to tackle the root causes of trafficking in human beings, including the particular vulnerabilities of some Roma communities.

      · Criminal networks and their members as well as parents who sell their children for the criminal purposes of prostitution and organised begging should be actively targeted and pursued. It is necessary that the police act in a co-ordinated manner at national and European level in this field.


1 The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights is mandated to promote the awareness of human rights, to identify possible shortcomings in the law and practice of member States of the Council of Europe and to help promote the effective observance and full enjoyment of human rights, as embodied in the various Council of Europe instruments. For the full text of the mandate, see Resolution (99)50 on the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, 7 May 1999.

2 Estimates of the number of Roma victims of the Holocaust vary between 250 000 and one-and-a-half million people. The United States Holocaust Memorial Research Institute (Washington) gives the estimate as “between half and one-and-a-half million”.

3 The current title of the Group is Group of Specialists on Roma, Gypsies and Travellers.

4 Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers Rec(2000)4, Rec(2001)17, Rec(2004)14 and Rec(2005)4.

5 Most notably the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the revised European Social Charter and its Protocol establishing a collective complaints procedure, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights relating to non-discrimination.

6 The various international human rights monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe and other international organisations have frequently taken up issues relating to the situation of Roma in their recommendations and conclusions. For instance, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has expressed concern over discrimination of the Roma in the majority of its 34 country-specific opinions of the first cycle. Also, the problems encountered by Roma were covered in 32 of the 43 country-specific reports of the European Committee against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) during its second-round of reporting. Recognising the particular vulnerability of the Roma to racism and discrimination, the ECRI adopted in 1998 its General Policy Recommendation No 3 on Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies. A number of Roma and Traveller individuals have approached the European Court for Human Rights, which so far has rendered a judgment in approximately a dozen cases involving Roma or Traveller applicants. Also, the Parliamentary Assembly has frequently addressed issues relating to the Roma, notably in its 2002 recommendation on the Legal Situation of the Roma in Europe (Rec. 1557), and its 2003 recommendation and report on Forcible returns of Roma from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo (Rec. 1633 and Doc. 9990). Comprehensive surveys of the challenges faced by Roma have also been undertaken by other international organisations, such as the 2000 Report by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities on the Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE, the 2002 Report by the UNDP on the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe – Avoiding the Dependency Trap, and the 2004 Report of the European Commission on the Situation of Roma in an Enlarged European Union. On 28 April 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation of the Roma in the European Union.

7 Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.

8 Document CRI (2003)8, 13 December 2002.

9 See Gloria Jean Garland, Fighting Discrimination Through the Courts, in Roma Rights, Numbers 1 and 2, 2003, pp. 81-82.

10 Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and Ms Leonarda Kuodiene, Lithuanian Ombudsman, Vilnius, Lithuania, 5 - 6 April 2002, CommDH(2002)3. 

11 Conclusions of the meeting between the Ombudsmen of Central and Eastern Europe and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Budapest, 23-24 June 2000, CommDH(2000)2.

12 Conclusions of the meeting between the Ombudsmen of Central and Eastern Europe and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Warsaw, 28-29 May 2001, CommDH(2001)6. 

13 See for instance, Political Rights of the Roma by Savelina Russinova, in Roma Rights, Nr 4/2003, and Preliminary analysis of the replies to the questionnaire on forms of participation of Roma/Travellers and related groups in decision-making processes in Europe, prepared for the Committee of Ministers’ Working Party with the task of examining the question of a possible forum for Roma and Travellers, GT-ROMS(2003)9prov2E.

14 Upon the initiative of Ms Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers started in 2002 a process towards the establishment of the Forum. The structure of the forum was outlined in a joint proposal by France and Finland in the summer of 2003, which suggested that the Forum should be an independent association with a special relationship with the Council of Europe. The Forum was registered in Strasbourg as an NGO in September 2004 and a partnership agreement between the Forum and the Council of Europe was signed on 15 December 2004. The First Plenary Assembly Meeting of the Forum took place on 13-15 December 2005.

15 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Bulgaria, 17-20 December 2001, CommDH(2002)1. Reports of the Commissioner’s official country visits are available on the Commissioner’s website: www.commissioner.coe.int.

16 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Hungary, 11-14 June 2002, CommDH(2002)6.

17 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Romania, 5-9 October 2002, CommDH(2002)13.

18 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Greece, 2-5 June 2002, CommDH(2002)5.

19 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Lithuania, 23-26 November 2003, CommDH(2004)6.

20 Several international monitoring bodies have paid attention to the housing situation of the Roma. Regarding the collective complaint of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Greece (Complaint No. 15/2003), the European Committee on Social Rights has found a violation of Article 16 of the European Social Charter on counts of the insufficiency of permanent dwellings, the lack of temporary stopping facilities, and the forced evictions and other sanctions of Roma. The decision regarding a complaint against Italy (27/2004) will be published shortly while a complaint against Bulgaria, also concerning housing, was declared admissible on 10 October 2005. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities have condemned the segregation of Roma in ghetto-like neighbourhoods in a number of their country reports and opinions. It should also be noted that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that indecent housing and living conditions may amount to violations of Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention in certain specific cases (see Judgment No. 2, 12 July 2005, Case of Moldovan and others v. Romania, Applications nos. 41138/98 and 64320/01). See also Discrimination against Roma - General Recommendation No. 27 of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 16 August 2000, contained in UN Doc. A/55/18, annex Vd.

21 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Italy, 10-17 June 2005, CommDH(2005)9.

22 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Greece, 2-5 June 2002, CommDH(2002)5.

23 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Portugal, 27-30 May 2003, CommDH(2003)14.

24 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Slovenia, 11-14 May 2003, CommDH(2003)11.

25 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to the Czech Republic, 24-26 February 2003, CommDH(2003)10.

26 The Movement of Travellers in Council of Europe Member States, Report prepared by consultants Dominique Steinberger and Laurent Keller, Doc. MG-S-ROM (2002) 10 Rev., 23 June 2002.

27 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to the United Kingdom, 4-12 November 2004, CommDH(2005)6.

28 ECRI has also urged the British authorities to ensure that local authorities make adequate provision of camp sites throughout the country, so that evictions related to the shortage of legal sites could be avoided. Second Report on the United Kingdom, doc. CRI(2001)6.

29 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Switzerland, 29 November – 3 December 2004, CommDH(2005)7.

30 Opinion on Ireland, ACFC/INF/OP/I(2004)003.

31 Second Report on Ireland, doc. CRI(2002)3.

32 Third Report on Switzerland, doc. CRI(2004)5. See also the Opinion on Switzerland of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, ACFC/INF/OP/I (2003) 007.

33 See Connors v. the United Kingdom, Application no. 66746/01. The family’s baby was suffering from serious illnesses, including a kidney problem, and the mother suffered from asthma. According to the applicant, no assistance was given to them as to where to go, apart from an offer of accommodation in another, distant, part of the United Kingdom which failed to take into account the family’s local community ties. The family’s teenage son stopped going to the school after the eviction, since they had to be on the move.

34 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to France, 5-21 September 2005, CommDH(2006)2.

35 Law No 2000-614 of 5 July 2000.

36 Law No 2003-239 of 18 March 2003. This law envisages the punishment of 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of € 3750 for illegal parking or encampment, as well as the confiscation of the vehicle and the suspension of the drivers licence. Furthermore, the Irish Housing Miscellaneous Act prevents Travellers from parking their vehicles at non-regulated places, with the threat of punishments of a fine up to € 3000 or imprisonment of 6 months.

37 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to France, 5-21 September 2005, CommDH(2006)2.

38 The UNDP report of 2002 (Avoiding the Dependency Trap) indicated, for instance, that in Hungary, more than 90 percent of children start secondary education, but only 33 percent of Roma youth do. In the Slovak Republic, the dropout rate of Roma children in the first grade rose from 46 percent in 1976 to 63 percent by 1999.

39 Press release of the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) of 18 February 2004.

40 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Hungary, 11-14 June 2002, CommDH(2002)6.

41 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Bulgaria, 17-20 December 2001, CommDH(2002)1.

42 Information provided by the ERRC.

43 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to the Slovak Republic, 14-16 May 2001, CommDH(2001)5.

44 Report of the Commissioner’s visit to the Czech Republic, 24-26 February 2003, CommDH(2003)10.

45 Moreover, during my visits to Portugal and Spain I was informed of exceptionally high rates of absenteeism and drop-outs from school among Roma pupils. Reports on the Commisioner’s visits to Portugal (27-30 May 2003, CommDH(2003)14) and Spain (10-19 March 2005, CommDH(2005)8).

46 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Poland 18 - 22 November 2002, CommDH(2003)4.

47 Opinion on Poland of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, ACFC/INF/OP/I(2004)005.

48 Report of the Commissioner’s visit to the Czech Republic, 24-26 February 2003, CommDH(2003)10.

49 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Croatia, 14-16 June 2004, CommDH(2005)3.

50 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Bulgaria, 17-20 December 2001, CommDH(2002)1.

51 Letter from the ERRC to the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs and the Minister of Health, Social and Family Affairs of Hungary, 5 April 2004.

52 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Croatia, 14-16 June 2004, CommDH(2005)3, see also Roma Rights, 3-4, 2002.

53 See ‘Romani children denied enrolment in Bulgarian schools’, in Roma Rights, Quarterly Journal of the European Roma Rights Centre, Numbers 3-4, 2002.

54 The European Roma Rights Centre described several such cases in Romania, France, Spain, Greece and Italy See Barriers to Education of Roma in Europe, A position paper by the European Roma Rights Centre, May 5, 2002.

55 For an analysis on employment, see Economic and employment problems faced by Roma/Gypsies in Europe, MSG-ROM (99) 5 rev., and Dena Ringold, Poverty and Roma in Central and Eastern Europe: A View from the World Bank, Roma Rights Quarterly, No 1, 2002, pp. 31 – 39.

56 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Romania, 5-9 October 2002, CommDH(2002)13.

57 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Slovenia, 11-14 May 2003, CommDH(2003)11.

58 Reports of the Commissioner’s visits to the Czech Republic (24-26 February 2003, CommDH(2003)10), Finland (4-7 June 2001, CommDH(2001)7) and Sweden (21-23 April 2004, CommDH(2004)13).

59 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Portugal, 27-30 May 2003, CommDH(2003)14.

60 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Italy, 10-17 June 2005, CommDH(2005)9.

61 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Portugal, 27-30 May 2003, CommDH(2003)14.

62 Report of the Commissioner’s visit to the Czech Republic, 24-26 February 2003, CommDH(2003)10.

63 UNDP Report on the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe - Avoiding the Dependency Trap, 2002.

64 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Romania, 5-9 October 2002, CommDH(2002)13.

65 Breaking the Barriers - Romani Women and Access to Public Health Care, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, 2003.

66 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to Greece, 2-5 June 2002, CommDH(2002)5.

67 Report on the Commissioner’s visit to France, 5-21 September 2005, CommDH(2006)2.

68 Recommendation of the Commissioner for Human Rights concerning certain aspects of law and practice relating to sterilization of women in the Slovak Republic. CommDH(2003)12.

69 The Ombudsman’s final report on his investigations into alleged sterilisations of Romani women in the Czech Republic was published in January 2006. The investigations were undertaken on the basis of complaints brough by 87 women.

70 Another alleged case of illegal sterilisation concerns Hungary. In February 2004, the European Roma Rights Center and the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities jointly filed a complaint against Hungary with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) relating to an alleged illegal sterilisation of a young Hungarian woman of Romani origin. The Hungarian authorities dispute the complaint.

71 Report of the Commissioner’s visit to the Czech Republic, 24-26 February 2003, CommDH(2003) 10. According to the Czech Police statistics, the number of extremist crimes appeared to peak in 2001 (452 cases) and 2002 (473 cases) becoming lower afterwards (335 cases in 2003 and 366 in 2004).

72 Case of Nachova and others v. Bulgaria, application nos. 43577/98 and 43579/98.

73 Recently, in the Case of Bekos and Koutropoulos v. Greece, application no. 15250/02, the European Court of Human Rights also found a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 3 in that authorities had failed to investigate possible racist motives concerning the ill-treatment of Roma applicants by the police. Moreover, the Court has found a violation of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Articles 6 and 8 in a case regarding Roma applicants and their treatment by judicial authorities. Case of Moldovan and others v. Romania, Application nos 41138/98 and 64320/01.

74 Kosovo: the human rights situation and the fate of persons displaced from their homes, Report by the Commissioner for Human Rights, CommDH(2002)11.

75 See, for example, Update on the Situation of Roma, Ashkalie, Egyptian, Bosniak and Gorani in Kosovo, UNHCR Kosovo, January 2003, Tenth assessment of the Situation of Ethnic Minorities in Kosovo, UNHCR and OSCE, March 2003, and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Report Forced returns of Roma from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, to Serbia and Montenegro from Council of Europe member states, Doc. 9990, 31 October 2003.

76 Human Rights Challenges following the March Riots, by OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Department of Human Rights and Rule of Law, 2004.

77 UNCHR Position on the Continued International Protection Needs of Individuals from Kosovo (March 2005).

78 Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo, Fifth Annual Report 2004-2005.

79 The severe lead-contamination in the Roma Camp of Žitkovac in Mitrovica is the best known example of the situation. The residents of this camp are currently being evacuated to a new site.

80 Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights on certain aspects of the proposal of the Government of Finland for a new aliens act. CommDH(2003)13. See also the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Case of Bulus v. Sweden Application No. 9330/81, and the decision of the European Commission on Human Rights in the Case of Tanko v. Finland, Application No. 23634/94.

81 Parliamentary Assembly Report Forced returns of Roma from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, to Serbia and Montenegro from Council of Europe member states,
Doc. 9990, 31 October 2003.

82 The situation of Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia and Montenegro – Issues Paper. International Committee of the Red Cross, May 2005.

83 See, for example, the Commissioner’s report on his visit to Finland, CommDH(2001)7.

84 See the Case of Chahal v. United Kingdom, Application No. 22414/93, of the European Court of Human Rights.

85 It should be noted that the obligations of the European Convention of Human Rights are in certain ways stricter than those of the 1951 Convention on the status of Refugees regarding the treatment of asylum seekers. For example, the absolute guarantees set out in Article 3 of ECHR apply to everyone without exception and therefore also prohibit the expulsion of foreigners to an area where they are liable to be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, even if they pose a threat to the national security of the country where they are considered to be returned from.

86 Case of Conka v. Belgium, Application No. 51564/99, judgment of 5 February 2002,
paragraphs 56 – 63. During the same year, the Court declared admissible a complaint of a group of Bosnian Roma expelled from Italy in 2000. Following the admissibility decision, an agreement was reached between the two parties. Case of Sulejmanovic and Sultanovic v. Italy, Application No. 57574/00, decision of 14 March 2002.

87 The Race Relations (Immigration and Asylum) (No 2) Authorisation 2001 of 23 April 2001. While under 19B (1) of the Amended Race Relations Act of 2000 “[i]t is unlawful for a public authority in carrying out any functions of the authority to do any act which constitutes discrimination”,
Section 19 D (1) of that Act states that “[s]ection 19B does not make it unlawful for a relevant person to discriminate against another person on grounds of nationality or ethnic or national origins in carrying out immigration and nationality functions.”

88 The other groups are: Kurd, Albanian, Tamil, Pontic Greek, Somali, Afghan, and a person who is of Chinese ethnic origin presenting a Malaysian or Japanese passport or any other travel document issued by Malaysia or Japan.

89 In this connection, ECRI has expressed its concern over reports that Roma passengers boarding flights bound to London were openly discriminated against by United Kingdom’s border official at Prague Airport despite an agreement with the Czech government that there would be no racial discrimination in the application of pre-entry control. This scheme was subsequently declared by the House of Lords to be inherently discriminatory and unlawful under the Race Relations Act 1976. Third Report on the United Kingdom CRI (2005) 27. Also, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted in its concluding observations on the United Kingdom that it is “concerned about the application of section 19 D of the Race Relations Amendment Act of 2000, which makes it lawful for immigration officers to "discriminate" on the basis of nationality or ethnic origin provided that it is authorized by a minister. This would be incompatible with the very principle of non-discrimination. The Committee recommends that the State party consider re-formulating or repealing section 19 D of the Race Relations Amendment Act in order to ensure full compliance with the Convention.” Doc CERF/C/53/CO/11 of 10 December 2003.

90 Conclusions of the Platform “Combating trafficking in children in Europe” organised by the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Chair of the Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings, with the cooperation of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Albania, in Tirana 19 – 20 January 2004.

91 Facts and data concerning the trafficking of Roma Children between Albania and Greece, by Athanassia Sykiotou, Lecturer of Criminology, Faculty of Law, Democretus University of Thrace.

92 Ibid.

93 Warsaw Declaration concerning the international migration of Rroms and the fight against the smuggling of human being, joint declaration by Romani NGOs of France and Romania, drafted in cooperation with the Contact Point for the Roms, Sinti and Kale of the OSCE/ODHIR, Warsaw, 9 – 19 September 2002.

94 Statement of Roma Associations from Romania regarding the International Migration of Roma and the Trafficking in Human Beings, adopted in Sibiu in August 2002.

95 A draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on policies towards Roma and Travellers is about to be finalised by the Group of Specialists on Roma, Gypsies and Travellers while the OSCE has already adopted an Action plan on improving the situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE area (Decision No. 566. PC.DEC/566 27 November 2003). Furthermore, new national “Decade Action Plans” are in the process of being implemented under the framework of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 launched by the Governments of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovakia.