Antigypsyism on the agenda at EU’s High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance

Alliance against Antigypsyism:

Antigypsyism on the agenda at EU’s High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance

The EU’s High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, bringing together representatives of EU Member States and civil society representatives, put special emphasis on discussing antigypsyism at their 4th High-Level Meeting taking place on 5 December 2017.

Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, expressed deep concerns regarding the widespread social acceptance of antigypsyism. As an example she brought the case of hate speech and death threats against Czech Roma singer Gypsy.cz, which was fined with only 4 Euros by a domestic court. Judicial cases such as this send a wrong message when it comes to combating antigypsyist hate speech.

MEP Soraya Post (S&D Group) emphasized the urgent need to remedy antigypsyism as the root cause of discrimination and hatred against Roma and called upon all governments and duty-bearers to take responsibility for their citizens. She warned: “Europe is at a crossroads again. Extremist parties are getting into the governments, xenophobic voices are getting more and more common and tolerated even by members of governments”.

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, presented the Reference Paper on Antigypsyism in her contribution and pointed out the importance to focus on mainstream society when combating antigypsyism: “It is essential to see that antigypsyism is not a ‘minority issue’. It is a phenomenon of our societies, which has its origin in how the social majority view and treat those whom they consider ‘gypsies’. To combat antigypsyism, our attention needs to shift to mainstream societies, while raising the voices of those who are dramatically affected by antigypsyism, but also usually silenced by it”.

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency presented findings of the second survey on discrimination and hatred targeting minorities throughout the EU. The survey shows that Roma and people of African descent face above-average levels of discrimination and hatred across Europe, which affects them in all areas of life and is greatest when looking for a job. Roma are more likely to be victims of hate motivated harassment and violence as well as ethnic discrimination than any other group, but three quarter of the respondents do not know any organisation offering support to victims and are unaware of relevant legislation protecting them. Due to a lack of trust, knowledge and resources, non-reporting of incidents of discrimination and hatred still remains a challenge. Reporting of hate-motivated harassment and discrimination to relevant services did not increase since 2008.

The survey results show the severity of discrimination and hatred against Roma in Europe. We urge the European Commission to assign the Fundamental Rights Agency to publish a study on antigypsyism in the EU and candidate countries and to provide a deeper analysis of the EU MIDIS II survey by looking at structural and institutional discriminatory practices and policies.

ERGO Network together with the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and the European Network against Racism urge EU Member States to take targeted measures against antigypsyism. These should be included in the National Roma Integration Strategies and the National Action Plans against Racism. Disaggregated data on hate crimes against Roma and their property needs to be collected and antigypsyism must be recognised to allow national authorities to analyse trends of hate crimes affecting Roma and to develop effective responses to ensure recording, prosecution and adequate support to victims of racist violence and hate speech.

Find here the policy recommendations of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

Download the recommendations as pdf.


     

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children 10 years after landmark decision of European Court on Human Rights

Press release – Brussels – 15/11/2017

10 years ago 18 Romani children from Ostrava in Czech Republic received a positive verdict of the European Court on Human Rights, acknowledging that placing them in segregated substandard education for children with mental or intellectual impairments constitutes a violation of their human rights.

This decision on the D.H. case on 13 November 2007 constituted a turning point for Roma children and their families in Europe, as for the first time a court ruled that segregation in education is unlawful.

Still today, however, Roma children continue to be perceived as outsiders and intruders in European countries where they have lived for centuries and are often denied access to quality education.  In Central and Eastern Europe, segregation mechanisms channel on average30 percent of Roma students into ethnically segregated and lower quality schools and classes.

Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, points out: “Putting our children into segregated schools is a direct manifestation of racism, deriving from the deeply embedded structural antigypsyism in the practice of authorities, institutions and society as a whole”.

Segregation in education does not only seriously harm the prospects of Roma students who don’t receive quality education, are at greater risk of poverty and are stigmatised for the rest of their lives; it denies all children the benefits of diversity in education and the chance to learn from one another. Parents need to be better informed and mobilised in order not to send their children to segregated schools.

ERGO Network calls on the European Union and its Member States to strictly follow-up on the infringement procedures for discrimination against Roma students launched against the governments of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and to step up their efforts to ensure equal citizenship of the 6 Million Roma in the EU.  This can include a local ex-ante conditionality for accessing EU funds that will put in place local desegregation plans, continued civil society monitoring on the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies and the use of EU funds and stronger efforts to combat antigypsyism throughout the EU.

Download the press release here.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO) brings together over 25 (pro) Roma grassroots organisations from across Europe to empower communities, fight antigypsyism and achieve equal citizenship.

Contact: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova (g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 1049), www.ergonetwork.org

European Parliament takes important step forward to address the fundamental rights of Roma

Press release

European Parliament takes important step forward to address the fundamental rights of Roma

Brussels, 26 October

The European Parliament adopted yesterday the own-initiative report on “Fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: fighting anti-Gypsyism”, calling upon the European Commission and EU Member States to put the fight against antigypsyism at the forefront of efforts for the social and economic inclusion of Roma. The Alliance against Antigypsyism welcomes the report as another milestone of the European Parliament to address antigypsyism – the specific racism faced by Roma, Sinti and Travellers – and to ensure fundamental rights for Roma.

We now urge EU Member States and the European Commission to follow the recommendations of the European Parliament and place antigypsyism in the focus of the post-2020 EU Roma Framework, as well as to treat antigypsyism as a horizontal issue and develop practical steps for Member States to combat antigypsyism.

Romani Rose, chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, said: “It was a historical moment for our minority when the European Parliament passed a resolution for the recognition of the Holocaust of Sinti and Roma in April 2015. This resolution declares 2 August as the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, and calls upon the EU Member States to recognize the genocide, as well as antigypsyism as the root cause of exclusion. The newly adopted report builds upon this legacy and takes another step into the right direction”.

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, director of ERGO Network, said: “The report calls for an end to the paternalistic treatment of Roma – an important step from regarding us Roma as mere clients – as well as to ensure equal access and enjoyment of fundamental rights. This is key since the institutions that are supposed to protect citizens from acts of discrimination and violence in practice all too often fail to extend the same level of protection to Roma as to non-Roma, precisely because of antigypsyism.”

Michael Privot, director of the European Network against Racism, said: “The report highlights the need to address the structural discrimination faced by Roma across Europe. The deplorable situation in which European Roma continue to live, eight years after the EU adopted measures for Roma inclusion, shows how urgent this is.”

There have been some positive developments to address antigypsyism at EU level, with the launch of infringement procedures by the European Commission against the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary regarding school segregation of Romani children, but more needs to be done.   We expect the Commission to equally address housing segregation and forced evictions in various member states, including Italy and Bulgaria. The European Parliament should also tackle antigypsyism within its own house and take disciplinary measures against Members of the European Parliament who use hate speech against Roma.

You can download the press release here.

For further information, contact:

ERGO Network: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org

Tel: +32(0)2 893 10 49, mobile: +32 (0) 48 99 74 753

Notes to the editor:

  1. The ‘Alliance against Antigypsyism’ is a coalition of organizations that promote equality of rights for Roma and combat antigypsyism on institutional and societal level. The aim of the Alliance is to advance a better understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, and to strengthen the political will and institutional mechanisms in order to tackle antigypsyism in Europe. The Alliance is coordinated by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO Network), the European Network against Racism (ENAR) and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
  2. Please find the text of the report here.

 

the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)       

 

 

ERGO Summer Academy showcases campaign ideas for Roma youth employment

In ERGO’s Summer Academy, taking place from 26 August to 2 September in Barcelona, a group of outstanding participants from across Europe joined forces to work together on a thematic campaign to raise awareness on Roma youth unemployment. The one-week long ERGO Summer Academy hosted 19 young professionals alongside the team of ERGO Network and guest trainers from Greece and Bulgaria.

The academy invited participants to join as experts from ERGO member organisations, other Roma NGOs and local or national administrations to discuss emerging issues of social exclusion, education and employment, and what a multi-stakeholder agenda for quality education and better employment can achieve regarding Roma youth.

Raising awareness on the plight of Roma youth employment has never been more important: 58% of Roma aged 16 to 24 are not in employment, education or training. At the same time, in countries such as Romania or Bulgaria up to 20% of new labour market entrants are Roma.  The new financial cycle of the European Commission will start in 2021, thus reminding decision-makers on what is at stake is of great importance.

The participants used the Academy to create an awareness raising campaign that will be launched at this year’s EU Roma Platform in Brussels.  The work started with differentiating the terminology and discussing the issues relevant to the context of employment. After hearing experiences and personal stories of participants, the group gained first-hand knowledge on the employment context in Barcelona through the initiatives of `FAGIC`, a Catalonian Roma network. To conclude the learning part of the week, Leonor Rebassa from Amnesty International introduced the group to all to the very details and best practices of thorough campaign planning.

In the second half of the week, innovative ideas for an ERGO youth employment campaign were brought to the table from working groups. In the last two days, it started to be clear what the campaign will look like, and finally, 4 initiatives made it to realization. They will be launched at this year’s European Roma Platform, which will be held in Brussels on 27/28 November on the topic of ‘Transition from Education to Employment’. ERGO’s campaign will focus on antigypsyism and discrimination on the labour market and addresses decision-makers and employers from the perspective of young Roma themselves.

Besides all their hard work, the participants of the event soon acclimatized to the fantastically located venue of Mare de Deu del Coll, and enjoyed mid-summer heat from the very early mornings till late nights that left enough time for networking between ERGO’s members and making new friends. Not only the sea at Barceloneta, but the whole week has been a refreshing experience to all participants.

Advocacy Training in Romania

Between 14 -16 August, the association Center of Resources for Social Inclusion CRIS, ERGO member, organized a training course on ‘Advocacy for combating antigypsyism and discrimination towards Roma’. The training was organized in Sinaia, Romania for ten Roma students and higher education graduates from Prahova County. Today, the ten participants are good friends and well-trained in undertaking advocacy for combating negative attitudes towards Roma in Romania and not only, as they said after the training. All because they understood that if they do not train and do not get involved, tomorrow they can be the next victims.

The training is part of CRIS’ Annual Work Plan 2017 in cooperation with ERGO Network. It has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” (2014-2020).