Thursday, December 10, 2009


The following are two press releases from Romani rights groups.

ERRC statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

10 December 2009, Budapest: Today marks the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the General Assembly of the United Nations. This year, Human Rights Day is devoted to non discrimination and the right to equality; it is celebrated around the world with the motto “Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination”.

On this occasion the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) notes that racial discrimination against Roma is still a common and persistent problem all around Europe. Roma face discrimination in all areas of life, which contributes to exclusion and poverty. As a result of historic and persistent discrimination against Roma, many Roma remain uneducated and unemployed, living in segregated, substandard housing, and facing much lower life expectancy than that of non-Roma.

The plight of Romani children remains especially acute. A large number of Romani children from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and other European countries are attending segregated special schools or segregated classes where they study according to an inferior curriculum. They leave these schools unprepared for life in a democratic society and participation in the labour market. They are denied the right to education on equal terms and emerge stigmatised as "stupid" and "disabled".

Children are subject to violence at the hands of police and private individuals. In 2009, YouTube viewers could watch a home-made video of Slovak police officers insulting and abusing six Romani boys in their custody. This year, Romani children were the target of racially motivated murder or attempted murder in Hungary and the Czech Republic.

In the spirit of the Article 1 of the UDHR, the ERRC urges European governments to take decisive action in order to eliminate discrimination against Roma, and in particular against Romani children. Specifically, governments should:

•Affirmatively prohibit segregation in education and take immediate steps to ensure that Romani children are provided with a quality education in an integrated setting;
•Conduct prompt, thorough and unbiased investigation into each case of violence against Roma, with adequate consideration of possible racist motive, and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice;
•Develop pro-active and comprehensive national strategy to combat and prevent racist or hate crimes and hate speech, including clear and consistent condemnations of all attacks against Roma; and
•Implement adequately funded positive action programmes in the fields of education, employment, housing and health care in order to promote equality of Roma and their inclusion in mainstream society.


In memory of József Nagy, Tiborné Nagy, Róbert Csorba, Róbert Csorba jr, Jenő Kóka and Mária Balogh

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, the founding States reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of all men and women. The world of 2009 is a very different place to that of 1948. Nonetheless, we still face huge challenges in upholding the words and spirit of the Universal Declaration, which is considered to be “a common aspiration to lift men everywhere to a higher standard of life and to a greater enjoyment of freedom,” as Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, said.

So, where do we stand now, 61 years later?

2009 has been a dire year for the Roma which has been punctuated by series of murders, increasing anti-Tziganism and the resurfacing of centuries-old prejudices and violence against them while remaining tr apped by segregation and multiple poverty. The situation has been so tr agic that thousands of Roma have decided to flee Community coun tr ies and seek asylum overseas.

On the anniversary of the adoption of our common and very basic human rights document, the European Roma and Travellers Forum should like to remind everyone that Governments have the primary responsibility and obligation to provide higher standard of life and full enjoyment of freedoms within the rule of law for their Romani citizens. We believe that the threat of rising anti-Tziganism calls for increased coordination by member states’ law enforcement authorities within and across borders. There is however a glimmer of light in this dark landscape: the recent series of dramatic events might have shaken the lethargy of governments and international organisations and hopefully brought home to them the gravity and urgency of the situation of the Roma.

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