The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Navanethem Pillay, encouraged the European Union and its member states to clearly condemn all forms of anti-Roma racism. Pillay spoke at the opening of the Fundamental Rights Conference- an event organised by the European Union (EU) Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).
The event takes place on 6 and 7 November and this year it is devoted to the topic of justice in times of austerity.
The High Commissioner said that the EU and its member states have introduced excellent non-discrimination legislation, but it was not ‘sufficiently drawn upon by the groups at risk’ such as Roma and migrants. In addition, Pillay emphasized that research had shown that the knowledge of this legislation ‘remains scanty among the general European public’.
In particular, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that in conditions of economic crisis, the Roma and travellers were increasingly at risk of becoming scapegoats, being targeted for repressive treatment, forced evictions, placement in segregated enclaves under police surveillance, through decisions taken by local and even national politicians.
Apart from encouraging the EU and member states to condemn all forms of anti-Roma racism, High Commissioner Pillay also called upon the equality bodies established under EU directives to increase their efforts at addressing systemic forms of discrimination which persist against the Roma and migrants, above all in the housing and labour markets.
Last but not least, she called on all European states to change the ‘anachronistic laws’ with no delay, and to ensure that their legislation is fully in line with article 12 of the CRPD.
About a week ago, FRA released a new report revealing that every fourth person from a minority group said that they had been a victim of crime at least once in the past 12 months. Moreover the study found that the highest overall victimisation levels were experienced by Sub‑Saharan Africans and Roma, respectively 33% and 32%. Morevoer, Roma (10%), Sub‑Saharan Africans (9%) and North Africans (9%) were, on average, most likely to have been assaulted or threatened with violence at least once in the previous 12 months.