by ERIO on May 19th, 2015

Link for the Report:

Covered period:
1.1.-31.12. 2013
Scope: 26 EU Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) + Iceland

Information relevant to Roma:
  • Most EU countries reported incidents of racist crimes that targeted Roma, who are considered as particularly vulnerable in countries with a large Roma population (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy)
  • Roma are more likely to be targeted in some EU countries, this often reflects wider patterns of racial discrimination (If Roma are particularly discriminated against in schools and employment within a particular Member State, then they are also often targets of racist crimes)
  • According to the Report, Roma represent 1.73% of the European population and mostly live in the eastern part of the European Union. They represent 10.33% of the inhabitants in Bulgaria, 9.17% in Slovakia, 8.32% in Romania, 7.05% in Hungary – the largest ethnic minority living in Hungary, and 5% in Croatia
  • Some EU countries publish information on the number of racist crimes but not information on the race, ethnicity or nationally of the victims; only some EU countries publish data on crimes that target Roma
  • Almost all ENAR questionnaire responses provided figures or cases of violence, abuse or incitement to violence against Roma (hate crimes are more prevalent in EU Member States with a large Roma population)
  • There were several examples of Anti-Roma rhetoric in political discourse (in Hungary, the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party has used anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric to foster support during their national and European parliamentary election campaigns. In April 2014 Jobbik’s share of the national vote rose to over 20%)
  • In France, Gilles Bourdouleix, Member of Parliament and centrist mayor of Cholet, stated about Roma that “Hitler maybe didn’t kill enough of them”. He was convicted and fined 3000€. This sends a clear message to other political representatives as well as the wider society that these statements are not tolerated
  • Recording of racist crimes – The different data collection methods result in data that are not comparable across countries
  • Many times the recording of racist crimes is intent oriented and not victim centred (police make the judgement on what constitutes a racially motivated crime, during recording of data police focus rather on the perpetrator’s intentions than the victim’s perception of the motivation, often there is no self-identification of race or ethnicity)
  • Majority of Member States do not adequately or systematically investigate the bias motivation (victims and witnesses reported the use of racist words at the time of the crime , but police do not investigate the potential racist element of the crime)
  • If a racist crime is reported as such then it is likely to be investigated as a racist crime because the police have a duty to investigate these crimes. However, the standard of these investigations may not be very high; bias motivated violence and intimidation reported to the police is often not taken very seriously and the police frequently fail to take basic investigative steps. These conclusions were confirmed by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, which pointed out on not adequate investigation of murder of Roma.
  • Crimes targeting individuals, not because of their ethnicity but because of their association with someone from an ethnic minority group, are still recognised as hate crimes by the OSCE. However, there are reports that this is not always taken into account by the judiciary (see case of Croatia below)
  • In Hungary and Slovakia, hate crimes provisions are being used, without real justification, to prosecute ethnic minorities (see case of Hungary below)
  • Underreporting is common in all EU Member States while Roma are identified as the least likely to report racist crimes specifically because their lack of police trust (there is a long history of police abuse, mistreatment and violence targeted at Roma communities, see case of Slovakia)
Some of the reported cases:
Bulgaria - In 2013 three murders of Roma by police as well as police violence in detention centres (beating of foreign detainees) were reported.
Croatia - A racist crime went unprosecuted due to the victim not belonging to an ethnic minority. In Zagreb on 6 September 2013, a Roma man and his extramarital partner were physically and verbally assaulted by an unknown person. Both victims filed a criminal complaint against               the attackers. The State Attorney’s Office in Zagreb filed an ex officio indictment for the criminal hate crime act against the Roma man but filed no charges in the case of his extramarital partner because she is a non-Roma and this could not be prosecuted as a hate crime.
Czech Republic - “Roma are reluctant to disclose their ethnicity when reporting crimes.”
France - Amnesty International reports that on 16 January 2013, a Roma couple who was sleeping on a mattress in a street of Paris was attacked by a man who poured acid on their belongings and bodies. This was not a first time for the perpetrator and an investigation was launched, but it is unknown whether the bias motive was recognised or whether he was convicted.
Hungary - Members of the Roma community in Hungary violently reacted to an extremist group ’patrolling’ a Roma neighbourhood during a period when serious racially motivated attacks against Roma were taking place across the country. The actions of the Roma community were classified as motivated by a bias against ‘members of the Hungarian community’. Nils Muižnieks, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights expressed his concerns about double standards whereby Roma are not sufficiently protected against hate crimes committed against them by members of extremist groups and are disproportionately sanctioned instead for offences committed in reaction to these attacks.
Italy - On 15 October 2013, in Naples, a woman and her child were attacked with acid by a neighbour. It is not the first time the perpetrator had harassed the Roma family.
Latvia - “Information provided by the Ombudsman’s Office shows that Roma do not report racially motivated crimes due to lack of trust in the police.”
Lithuania - “Roma said they face discrimination from the police when reporting a racist crime, one reported being arrested; others were asked to present their documents to the police officers.”
Slovakia - In Moldava nad Bodvou several Roma suffered injuries after the police arrested 15 of them during an intervention in a camp. Policemen stated that they did not enter people’s houses, however because of the aggression of citizens they had to use coercive measures. Some citizens are convinced that it was a revenge for an incident from a previous weekend, when Roma attacked police forces and broke windows on police cars. A prosecution of suspected offences of abuse of authority, assault and violation of the right to privacy was launched.
United Kingdom - “Government report stated that “all the available research and testimonies from voluntary organisations suggests that hate crime is hugely under-reported”. The report goes on to say that under-reporting is a significant issue among new migrant communities, including asylum and refugee communities, and Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities.”

Positive developments regarding EU Member States’ response to racist crime:
Slovakia - The diversity of the police force has improved; there are at least two Roma women working on hate crime and one Roma person in the department investigating criminal cases

by ERIO on March 2nd, 2015

ERIO has published a handbook for Roma activists with guidelines on how to advocate for Roma inclusion at the local, national and European level. The handbook has been developed with the view that Roma community-based advocacy needs to be better promoted, especially at the level of grassroots groups, networks, and organisations with the necessary information and advocacy skills to demand that Roma community needs and priorities need to be addressed. The aim of this handbook is to offer advice to Roma activists to plan and design effective and efficient advocacy actions, making their voice heard and ensuring the advancement of the integration of Roma across Europe.

The handbook is available in English and Romanes.

by By Monika Šamová, ERIO on February 26th, 2015

On 24 February 2015, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI),
a human rights body of the Council of Europe, published a fifth monitoring report on the current issues related to racism and intolerance in Greece. The report, amongst others, refers to the situation and treatment of Sinti, Roma and Travellers in this country.

In the case of Greece, ECRI presents the following issues, positive developments, and recommendations related to the treatment of Roma and Sinti:
  • An incitement to public racist discourse had significantly increased since 2009. In many cases this hatred aims Roma and often comes from political parties’ representatives, particularly from Golden Dawn. ECRI states that “this situation is not adequately addressed and there is widespread impunity for acts of hate speech and insufficient official condemnation“. Therefore ECRI recommends setting up a national monitoring mechanism for incidents of hate speech including a centralised database for court cases. (p. 9, p. 17-18, art. 34-37) 
  • Roma are as well subject to negative stereotyping in political discourse. The report mentions a case of a blond girl taken from the Roma couple who had raised her. Police suspected that she had been abducted due to her different physical resemblance than the Roma who took care of her. Despite this allegation turned to be false, the Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, addressing police officers of the case, congratulated them for “dissolving ghettos of lawlessness where abduction of children occurred“. (p. 19-20, art. 43) 
  • The prevalence of negative stereotypes is visible also in media. Many newspapers informed the public about the case of the blond girl before the results of the police investigation were released, announcing that the girl must have been abducted. This was followed by the Ombudsman’s criticism of the media for supporting stereotypes and racist attitudes. (p. 21, art. 50) 
  • According to the report the Greek authorities established an inter-ministerial committee for the coordination of all government institutions involved in Roma integration programmes which meets annually. ECRI encourages the Committee on Roma integration to schedule its meeting at least once per three months in order to continue monitoring process of developments in this area. (p.31. art. 98-99) 
  • The report criticises insufficient Roma participation in the process of evaluation of the previous Integrated Action Plan, which did not meet its objectives and was considered as a failure. New National Strategy for Social Integration of Roma 2012-2020 aims to end the social exclusion of Roma and create conditions for their integration. ECRI recommends to involve Roma communities in ”the systematic follow-up of programme interventions in to ensure sustainability and greater involvement of community members” as well as to create an ongoing monitoring process for the new Roma Integration strategy 2012-2020 with representation of Roma communities. Due to the lack of coherence between national strategies, regional action plans and local-level implementation the effectiveness of the integration measures decreases. ECRI promotes the coordination with regional and local authorities within the implementation process of the National Strategy for Social Integration on Roma 2012-2020. (p. 31, art. 98-104) 
  • ECRI expressed its concerns over the education segregation of Roma. Despite the improvement on the school attendance, the illiteracy and dropout rates are still high among Roma children. In many cases Roma pupils are either excluded from schools or sent to Roma-only facilities. According to the European Court of Human Rights’ judgement in “Sampanis and Others v. Greece“, this practise constitutes a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the ECHR in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol No.1 (right to education)[1]. Findings of the ECRI’s delegation, which visited the school from this case, show that it is still attended only by Roma children. ECRI states that “parents of non-Roma pupils and local residents of the primary school closest to the Roma settlement threatened violence if Roma children were enrolled there and the headmaster, supported by local officials, refused to enrol them“. The government attempted to tackle the problem through a national programme for Education of Roma Children and through so-called Education Priority Zones. However, an access to desegregated, inclusive education for all pupils has still not been secured by the Government. (p. 31-32, art. 105-108) 
  • The another segregation of Roma persists in housing; many Roma settlement are completely isolated from the rest of the population without access to water or electricity supplies, with no heating during winter or with leaking roofs in some cases. Furthermore, many forced evictions of Roma took place without specifying a suitable place to install a safe and legal settlement and without adequate access to legal remedies. ECRI calls for an effective action taken by the Greek authorities which would address the situation of Roma living in substandard settlements. (p. 32-33, art. 110-111) 
For more details you can consult the full reports here:

[1] Sampanis and Others v. Greece (ECtHR application no. 32526/05). Available to download from here.

by ERIO on February 13th, 2015

Article translated by Sean Nolan (ERIO)
Original source by Tieri Briet, Mediapart
A serious occurrence
Something serious has just taken place in France. Another step in the banalization of a state racism. A friend of mine wrote to me last night to warn me about what was, and so I am passing this information on to you. Thus writers, poets or novelists, journalists or bloggers from all over may help to echo what the Roma people are going through nowadays in France and in Europe. We need to report. We need to witness. I am quoting Philippe Lagatie, a long-time friend of Roma families living in the camp that suffered from the police’s attack.   

Sunday 8 of February 2015, four agents of the BAC (the anti-criminal branch) intervened in the Roma camp of Quatre-Cantons, near Lille. It was dark, close to 10 pm and everything was calm in the camp. Without uniforms or armbands, in civilian cars, the police men immediately gazed the inhabitants of the camp that came close, worried about such an intervention.

A witness describes the scene: “They arrived looking drunk and drugged, they fell on their own twice as they were advancing through the backfill.”

Without any reason nor explanations, they assaulted several people. Mainly children. Some adults chased them from the camp, forcing them away in a pacific manner in as far as they could, in order to protect the children. The policemen drew their weapons and fired shots in the air. A tear gas grenade was thrown, and its fumes burnt the eyes of several children.

Reinforcements were called. As soon as they arrived, police men in uniform yelled at their colleagues for their unjustified behaviour.

One child was strangled, another person’s eyes were hurt: two wounds cause by a tear gas grenade. Some families are still in shock, eyes burnt by the gas.

No one has yet been taken in for questioning, and no arrests have been made.

The next day, we still do not know the reason for the attack.

Anna Maria, one of the mediators of the camp and a young mother, tried to talk to the police. She was met with insults and was molested by the policemen.

Information source: Secret Lazar , médiateur Rom, 
Philippe Lagatie
This morning, Monday 9th of February at 9:30 am, testimony of Philippe Lagatie:

“I am coming back from the camp this morning, where I was supporting my friends, trying to comfort them, making sure that the children were ok, in company of Pat Bardet.

Llittle Maria, six years old, has had her coat torn by a police man. The tear itself is 15 centimetres long going from the bottom to the middle of the coat. The coat can still close but the filling escapes through the tear. She had come over to my home Sunday afternoon, and her coat was then in a good condition.

The children, who invited me to have some fried sunflower seeds for breakfast, told me that “the policemen threw a bomb that burst into fire and then boom”, probably a tear gas grenade?

The adults were all shocked by this act of violence and were not able to sleep.

The leaders of the community were contacted by the AFP, an investigation has been opened, and some actions are being discussed.

The adults who normally have a good relationship with the police, who at times have to visit the camp, were all surprised by these unusual and ultra-violent actions, especially since they did not announce themselves or ask anything. They proceeded instead to throwing tear gas directly.

The French speakers among them were also very shocked at the string of racist insults. We still do not know why they came, and the AFP does not have any more information for the moment.

The league of Human rights (LDH) was informed, in Paris and Lille. The judicial services of the LDH will contact the prosecutor.

Photos were taken by the Intercollectif Rom 59-62 who arrived just after the events. They will be disseminated at a later date.

A child was indeed strangled by a policeman, he has now recovered but still has strangulation marks.

The wounded adult, M.D., has two small wounds next to his right eye on the eyebrow and on the upper cheek which were caused by the tear gas grenade.    

by ERIO on February 4th, 2015

ERIO was invited to participate in a final conference of the European Economic and Social Committee`s (EESC) project "Better inclusion of the Roma community through civil society initiatives" held on 3 February 2015 in Brussels. The objective of the event was to present the final report and recommendation of the EESC`s project. The conference was attended by representatives of civil society, international organisations, local authorities, European Parliament and different Directorate Generals of the Commission.
This concluding conference provided opportunities to express the ideas, criticism and recommendations of participants on the presented document. During the event Ivan Ivanov, the executive director of ERIO, expressed his comments and recommendations on the final recommendation, particularly the importance of institutional recognition of anti-Gypsyism, the necessity of independence for Equality Bodies and the need of discussion between Member States and civil society. He welcomed the existence of the document (e.g. the provision related to the important role of churches in stamping out personal and institutional segregation), but voiced his concerns about the special contribution of the document distinguishing it from others as well as about the obstacles in implementation. Good practices of visited Member States (Finland, Romania, Spain and Bulgaria) in the field of education, housing, employment and health were also introduced and promoted during the conference. The suggestions made by participants will be taken into account by EESC before submitting the document.
More information about the event is available here.

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