Roma treatment concerns COE

Better treatment of this group is needed throughout Europe

Michael Sandelson & Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

COE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks states that “it is time to counter deep-rooted hostility” regarding Roma.

He cites an incident that occurred in Dublin last October. Ten died in a fire at a Travellers’ site near the southern Ireland city. Commissioner Muižnieks says that neighbors prevented authorities’ efforts to provide alternative accommodation to the group’s surviving members by blocking roads.

“Sadly, this episode illustrates well how deep-rooted hostility against those identified as Travellers, Gypsies, Roma, Manouches, Sinti, Romani/Taters, or Yenish still affects the lives of these persons,” he states, listing countries including Belgium, France, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK.

The Commissioner has expressed concern regarding how the Roma community in Oslo is treated in his report on Norway. In 2012, 10 of 24 complaints regarding the Norwegian Police Force’s handling of homeless Roma people were investigated.

Norwegian textbooks’ coverage of ethnic groups is also said to be uneven. Moreover, forced sterilization of Romani people was high on the agenda in Norway at one time.

Talking of the history of Roma in Europe, COE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks mentions that it “is marked by persecutions, expulsions, and rights violations aimed at forced sedentarization and at eradicating their culture and way of life.”

Authorities in various countries continue to implement policies forcing Roma to move to settled accommodation, often in poor conditions, according to Muižnieks.

Incumbent Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has apologized for both the treatment of, and governmental policies which had fatal consequences for, the Norwegian Roma during the Holocaust.

“There is no evidence to suggest that a policy of mass forced eviction will bring a lasting solution to the exclusion and prejudice many Roma face,” states COE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

“On the contrary, forced evictions can prove counter-productive as they often disrupt the schooling of Roma children and hamper the efforts of those who provide basic healthcare to Roma communities, for example through vaccination campaigns,” he concludes.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Feb. 12, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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