International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Statement

Anti-Discrimination-Day Statement

Each year, the world commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.

One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist.

A specific form of racism is antigypsyism, which is directed towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers, and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. We Roma fight racism every day – today is just another day in our lives.

Since last year, the increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement has put a spotlight on the outrageous levels of racism around the world.  The Coronavirus crisis redoubled structural racism and health inequalities during  the epidemic and continues to disproportionately impact the lives of Roma people and other racialized minorities across Europe.

Structural racism and discrimination against ethnic and racialised minorities are deeply rooted in European societies. Across the EU, we face widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion. Racial discrimination and harassment are commonplace for us.

Hate speech, hate crime, segregation, structural and systemic exclusion and discrimination of Roma people, including segregation of Roma children in schools, discrimination in the housing sector, access to healthcare and employment persists in many EU Member States, Neighborhood and Enlargement countries.

On 18 September 2020, the European Commission adopted the first EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 that promises a series of measures to tackle racism and racial discrimination, covering a broad string of policy areas.

ERGO Network, together with our members and partners, are actively observing the implementation of the plan in order to ensure that anti-Roma discrimination is also covered in the scope of the EU anti-racism agenda.

Here are some of our recommendations to the EU institutions and Member States:

  • Finally adopt the 10-year old draft of the Horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive.
  • Systematically record and publish disaggregated data on hate crime
  • Fully transpose and apply the provisions of the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, treating racist and xenophobic motivation as an aggravating circumstance
  • Reform internal policies and working methods in order to ensure a fair representation of minority populations within EU institutions as well as an adequate participation and consultation of minority groups in EU decisions in policies, programmes and funding
  • Commit to an ambitious, comprehensive, and binding EU Strategic Framework for Roma to achieve equality, social and economic justice, and combat antigypsyism.
  • Ensure equitable access to quality inclusive education for all children and invest consistently in raising awareness and adequately teach European societies about their colonial and racist past, including the history of antigypsyism.
  • Define segregation as illegal in housing and in education.
  • Address discrimination of minority groups in employment.
  • Take into account the needs of racialised minorities and define them as a priority in all mainstream policies and measures of the Covid-19 recovery plan; meaningfully involve Roma stakeholders and their civil society organisations in the design, implementation, and monitoring of such recovery plans.
  • Ensure funding for equality and fundamental rights of minority groups under the Multi-Annual Framework.