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UN Human Rights Office contributes to European consultations on Roma inclusion policy

In the week of October 23, the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe (OHCHR) provided written views to the European Commission as part of the the mid-term review of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020.

Our contribution focussed on 13 “lessons learned”, arising from our work to strengthen the human rights of Roma in Europe. We joined with a range of actors including the European Parliament in urging that next chapters in Roma inclusion efforts build on creative efforts developed in the recent period to strengthen Roma inclusion on a human rights basis, take a more comprehensive approach, and explicitly recognize the problem of anti-Gypsyism.

© European Roma Rights Centre
We stressed the need to see a major redoubling of efforts to combat segregation in education, housing, health care and employment. We called attention to unremedied abuses of Roma such as coercive sterilization, and noted that participation of Roma in public and political life remains troublingly low. Policy frameworks going forward should explicitly name targets in areas related to gendered aspects of the negative treatment of Roma, including but not necessarily limited to strengthening representation in public and political life, tackling child and early marriage, and strengthening outreach by and access to mainstream services for domestic violence.

The European Union should continue to play a strong role in supporting vibrant and independent civil society organisations working on Roma rights and Roma inclusion, and should affirm the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful public assembly, and right to truth as intrinsic to human dignity, as well as crucial for democratic societies. We also recommended that the European Commission should be given a mandate to act on Roma inclusion both inside and outside the borders of the European Union.

Above all, we stressed the importance of a post-2020 EU policy focusing on Roma inclusion, to follow up and carry forward the work begun under the current EU Framework. The full text of our views is available at: Lessons Learnt EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies 2012 2020