International Roma Day 2016
On 8 April 2016, as every year, we celebrate International Roma Day – once again in a situation where human rights challenges faced by Roma individuals, families and communities across Europe remain very serious.
“Over the last year, we have continued to see deliberate anti-Roma policies carried out by local and in some cases, national Governments,” said Jan Jařab, OHCHR Regional Representative for Europe. “We have seen systematic forced evictions of migrant Roma from shantytowns in France, often without provision of housing alternatives, with a disastrous impact on rights of the child, including education. This policy has continued despite the fact that over the last 12 months, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee for the Rights of the Child and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, have urged France to change its approach. The last year also brought forced evictions and anti-Roma demonstrations in Bulgaria. We particularly regret that the investigation of police violence against Roma in the shantytown near Moldava nad Bodvou in Slovakia has ended in the charges being dropped, adding to a consistent pattern of impunity for police ill-treatment of Roma in this EU Member State.
At the same time, we welcome the ongoing infringement procedures carried out by the European Commission against Member States for school segregation as violation of the Race Equality Directive. We encourage the Commission to exercise its role of guardian of the treaties also as regards systematic policies of forced eviction and deliberate residential segregation,” added the Regional Representative. Jan Jařab also said that it was very encouraging to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Acceder program in Spain which has helped place tens of thousands of Roma - Gitanos - into the mainstream labor market. It shows how important it is for employment-focused initiatives to work directly with the employers, and it should serve as a positive example for other EU Member States.
The OHCHR Regional Office for Europe will continue working in close cooperation with civil society organizations - European Grassroots Roma Organizations, European Roma Rights Center and others - to empower Roma and Travellers around Europe as rights-holders, and contribute to their full enjoyment of all human rights.