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State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 - Roma

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 28 June 2012
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 - Roma, 28 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fedb3e737.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Europe's 10-12 million Roma continue to face a climate of increasing violence, harassment and intimidation across the continent. Roma communities, who live dispersed across Europe, were targeted for mass expulsions and evictions throughout 2011. The French government's campaign to evict and deport Roma, which attracted strong international criticism in 2010, continued aggressively in 2011. In June, the French Interior Minister Claude Guéant announced plans to return as many as 28,000 allegedly illegal immigrants in 2011.

Roma continued to be targeted for ongoing evictions in other countries in Europe. According to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), evictions were carried out during 2011 by Albania, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and the UK. Between April and October, 46 evictions affecting 5,753 people were recorded by the organization in France. Between June and August, at least 500 Roma were evicted from camps in Marseille. The Italian authorities have also been aggressive in pursuing a policy of evictions, affecting thousands of Roma in both Milan and Rome in recent years. Between April and December, ERRC monitored 131 evictions (usually affecting many households at a time) in Italy. Roma support groups reported evictions taking place during the spring of the Roma community in the Magliana aqueduct area of Rome, several families in the Piazza Lugano settlement in Milan and a family in Prato. With no alternative accommodation being provided, these clearances had disastrous consequences for the affected families.

In northern Romania, the local authorities of Baia-Mare erected a concrete wall to separate a Roma community from the rest of the town. In response to criticisms of institutionalized racism and ghettoization, the mayor of the town claimed that the wall was to protect citizens against car crashes.

In Portugal, the municipality of Vidigueira destroyed the water supply of 67 Roma (including children, pregnant women and elderly people) in February. After an intervention by ERRC, the authorities restored the water supply, but the reconnection was not made known to residents and living conditions remain deplorable.

In Serbia in June, Police Minister Ivica Dacic issued an official apology to a Roma family, four years after their son was brutally beaten by police in the eastern city of Vrsac. Police brutality is widespread in the country according to human rights groups. ERRC also raised concerns about disproportionate use of police force in Lviv city in western Ukraine, and urged authorities to investigate unlawful discriminatory identity checks of Roma youth, including fingerprinting and document verification without any allegation of involvement in criminal activities.

In Hungary, Roma were targeted by a far-right vigilante paramilitary group – 'For a Better Future'. The group deployed patrols in the northern village of Gyöngyöspata. The intimidation reached its peak in March, when 1,000 black-uniformed neo-Nazis marched through the village with dogs and armed with whips and chains. These incidents prompted the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Githu Mujgaj, to visit the village in May and meet with representatives of the Roma community, local politicians and police authorities. He said that the country had yet to effectively tackle racism, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Forced sterilization of Roma women remains an unresolved issue in some countries. Roma women in the Czech Republic are still waiting for adequate redress for irreparable injuries two years after the Czech government under Prime Minister Jan Fischer expressed regret for individual sterilizations. However, a 20-year-old woman won her human rights appeal against Slovakia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in November. In its first judgement on sterilization, the Strasbourg court ordered Slovakia to pay €43,000 in damages for violating the human rights of a woman who was sterilized without her informed consent.

Amid growing controversy, the European Commission adopted the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies in June. This was welcomed as a step forward and will enable the EU to take steps to fight anti-Roma discrimination and racism. But MRG has pointed out that the Framework, by narrowly focusing on the social and economic situation of Roma, falls far short of fully tackling the challenges of Roma exclusion. It remains to be seen how well the European Commission and the member states convert the Framework's human rights commitments into tangible and ambitious national strategies that are effectively implemented. Sadly, only 15 out of 27 EU member states had met the end of 2011 deadline for submitting national integration strategy reports.

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