Friday, January 22, 2010

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL



Amnesty calls on the EU to stop Roma exclusion now
Issue: 870 Posted: January, 21 2010

BY ANDY DABILIS
FROM NEW EUROPE www.neurope.com

As the opening conference of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion opened today in Madrid, Amnesty International (AI) urged the EU to address what it said were continuous human rights violation suffered by Europe’s Roma population. In a letter to the Spanish EU presidency, Amnesty International called specifically to stop forced evictions of Roma and to end all segregated schooling.

“The Roma is one of the most obvious examples of a minority in the EU that suffers from both poverty and marginalization. It seems that it still is acceptable to treat them differently and this is equally unacceptable,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU office. The group said the EU should to build on its political commitment and take action to stop forced evictions of Roma that it says occurs all over the EU and urged member states to adopt and implement policies that encourage integration of Romani children in mainstream education, paying special attention to the multiple discrimination suffered by the Romani girls.

AI said there are indications that forced evictions of Roma communities living in poverty are increasing in the EU lately. In the Bacula community in the north of Milan, 150 Roma people living under an overpass were forcibly removed in March last year. This happened without any warning and 70 of them were dispersed without being given any alternative accommodation, the group said.

Similar actions have also occurred in Slovakia and Greece where AI recorded forced evictions in violation of international law. These includes adequate and reasonable prior notice, an opportunity for genuine consultation, provision of legal remedies including legal aid if needed, adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses. After forced evictions, people may no longer have access to clean water, food, sanitation, work, health or education. Because of their role within the family, women bear the brunt of this deprivation, the human rights group added.

It added that continued segregation of Romani children at school is another area of concern. In a recent AI report (Injustice Renamed Discrimination in Education of Roma Persists in the Czech Republic) the group claimed that many Romani children are sent to schools and classes designed for pupils with “mild mental disabilities” and that others are placed in Roma-only mainstream schools and classes, where they receive a lower quality of education. These forms of human rights violations have taken place regardless of a 2007 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in which the Czech Republic was guilty of discriminating against Romani children by placing them in so-called special schools. “This form of segregation will only increase the likelihood of Roma facing exclusion from public life and it limits the possibilities of young European Romanis,” said Esteban Beltran, the Director of Amnesty International Spain. Beger added that, “If the EU is serious about fighting poverty and social exclusion, they must be prepared to end discrimination against Roma urgently. One concrete action would be to immediately address the situation of Erzs├ębet Fodor and her family who are living next to a sewage station in Romania, after being forcibly evicted five years ago”

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