New reports about racism and inequality in the UK
The “Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on her visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” has been published and makes specific reference to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
The UN Special Rapporteur E. Tendayi Achiume stated in her report that the UK Government’s policies exacerbate discrimination, stoke xenophobic sentiment and further entrench racial inequality. It highlights persistent racial disparities in, among others, education, employment, housing, health, surveillance, interactions with police, prosecutions, and incarceration.
“The structural socio-economic exclusion of racial and ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom is striking,” the Special Rapporteur said in her report, based on a fact-finding visit to the country in April and May 2018.
“Notwithstanding the existence of a legal framework devoted to combating racial discrimination, the harsh reality is that race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability status and related categories all continue to determine the life chances and well-being of people in Britain in ways that are unacceptable and, in many cases, unlawful.”
During her fact finding visit to the country in April and May 2018 she held a special meeting with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations.
The full report of the Women and Equalities Committee “Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities” was produced in April 2019:
The Government has now produced its response to this in which it states that “the Government agrees that an ambitious programme of work needs to be undertaken in order to tackle inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will lead in co-ordinating a cross-Government strategy to improve outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The ministry will work closely with other Government departments including the Race Disparity Unit within the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Government Equalities Office and the Home Office to develop the strategy.”
This follows years of pressure from NGOs, including the civil society monitoring reports and the “Experts by Experience” report of the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups and will be a “Roma Integration Strategy” in all but name. The Strategy won’t be operational until 2020 to give time for community input into its formulation, but the commitment to produce it is a positive move and we will be working alongside other NGOs to ensure that the Strategy is “bottom up” rather than merely being imposed from above.