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Europe must break cycle of discrimination facing Roma, Amnesty says ahead of EU Roma Summit

Amnesty International is calling on the European Union (EU) and its member states to take concrete action to break the cycle of discrimination, poverty and exclusion experienced by Roma communities in Europe, on the eve of the second EU Roma Summit in Cordoba, Spain, on 8 April (International Roma Day).

A new Amnesty report, Stop forced evictions of Roma in Europe (pdf),  published today, highlights how Roma communities are targeted for forced evictions:

  • In Bulgaria, at least 200 Roma were left homeless when local authorities forcibly evicted them and demolished their houses in the Black Sea city of Burgas in September 2009.
  • Italy’s July 2009 “Nomad Plan” envisages the destruction of over 100 Roma settlements across Rome. Around 6,000 Roma are to be resettled, without adequate consultation, into just 13 camps on the outskirts of the city.  The plan is likely to leave more than 1,000 Roma homeless.
  • On 3 April 2009, the Serbian authorities forcibly evicted 250 Roma from a temporary settlement in New Belgrade. The authorities offered the families containers in another part of Belgrade but local residents tried to set them on fire. The Roma families were at no point offered adequate housing.
  • Since June 2006, more than 100 Roma families living initially in the centre of Athens, Greece, were forcibly evicted four times without being consulted or offered alternative accommodation.
  • In Romania more than 100 Roma people, including families with Children's rights, are living in metal cabins next to a sewage works after they were forcibly evicted from their homes in the town of Miercurea Ciuc in 2004. The cabins fall within a 300 metre protection zone established by Romanian law to separate homes from potential toxic hazards.

Amnesty International is calling on the EU to develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure equality and non-discrimination for the Roma.

Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s interim Secretary General, said:

“Despite the pervasive discrimination against millions of Roma across the continent, the EU is failing to hold national authorities accountable when they do not meet their responsibilities.

“EU leaders must adopt a concrete plan of action to address the human rights abuses faced by Romani communities. They must speak up against racist attacks and hate speech and provide concrete measures to end discrimination in access to housing, education, health and employment.”

Amnesty International, along with Roma and other non-governmental organisations, has documented the failures of the authorities in a number of European countries to protect Roma communities from discrimination. Amnesty has highlighted repeated failures to end segregation of Roma Children's rights in education and to guarantee Roma communities’ right to adequate housing.   

Living in neglected settlements, Roma communities are often evicted without adequate notice or prior consultation and without being offered any alternative accommodation. As a result, victims of forced evictions are often left homeless or in deplorable housing and living conditions. Many also lose their possessions and whatever access they had to education, employment and public services.
Amnesty International’s new report shows how governments in Europe have carried out forced evictions in breach of their international obligations. Their failure to provide adequate alternative housing to Roma or moving them to isolated settlements perpetuates further segregation of Roma communities.

Claudio Cordone said:

“The Roma people are citizens of Europe and European leaders must ensure that they have the same rights and responsibilities as their compatriots. There cannot be second class citizens in the Europe of the 21st century.

“At the summit in Cordoba, EU leaders need to develop a coherent EU Framework Policy which addresses the discrimination of Roma in Europe. They must demonstrate political will to make Roma inclusion a reality.”

Download the report (pdf)

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