Antigypsyism on the agenda at EU’s High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance
The EU’s High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, which brings together representatives of EU Member States and civil society, put a special emphasis on discussing antigypsyism at their 4th High-Level Meeting in Brussels on 5 December 2017. Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, expressed deep concerns regarding the widespread social acceptance of antigypsyism in Europe.
Jourova gave the example of the death threats and hate speech recently committed against the Czech Roma singer Radek Banga of the band Gypsy.cz, the perpetrators of which have been fined just EUR 4 by a domestic court. Sentences such as this send the wrong message when it comes to combating antigypsyist hate speech.
MEP Soraya Post (S&D Group) emphasized the urgent need to remedy antigypsyism as the root cause of discrimination and hatred against Roma and called upon all governments and duty-bearers to take responsibility for their citizens. She warned: “Europe is at a crossroads again. Extremist parties are getting into the governments, xenophobic voices are getting more and more common and tolerated even by members of governments”.
Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, presented the Reference Paper on Antigypsyism in her contribution and pointed out the importance of focusing on mainstream society when combating antigypsyism: “It is essential to see that antigypsyism is not a 'minority issue'. It is a phenomenon of our societies, which has its origin in how the social majority view and treat those whom they consider 'gypsies'. To combat antigypsyism, our attention needs to shift to mainstream societies, while raising the voices of those who are not just dramatically affected by antigypsyism, but also usually silenced by it”.
The EU Fundamental Rights Agency presented findings of the second survey on discrimination and hatred targeting minorities throughout the EU. The survey shows that Roma and people of African descent face above-average levels of discrimination and hatred across Europe, which affects them in all areas of life and is greatest when looking for a job.
Roma are more likely to be victims of hate-motivated harassment and violence as well as ethnic discrimination than any other group, but three-quarters of the respondents are not aware of any organizations offering support to victims and are unaware of the relevant legislation protecting them. Due to a lack of trust, knowledge and resources, the non-reporting of incidents of discrimination and hatred still remains a challenge.
The reporting of hate-motivated harassment and discrimination by victims to the relevant services has not increased since 2008. The survey results also show the severity of discrimination and hatred against Roma in Europe.
ERGO urges the European Commission to assign the Fundamental Rights Agency to publish a study on antigypsyism in the EU and in candidate countries, and to provide a deeper analysis of the EU MIDIS II survey by looking at the discriminatory policies and practices of institutions as a structural phenomenon. ERGO Network, together with the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and the European Network against Racism, urge EU Member States to take targeted measures against antigypsyism.
Any such measures should be included in the Member States' National Roma Integration Strategies and National Action Plans against Racism. Disaggregated data on hate crimes against Roma and their property needs to be collected, and antigypsyism must be recognised to allow national authorities to analyse trends of hate crimes affecting Roma and to develop effective responses to ensure the recording and prosecution of such crimes as well as adequate support to victims of racist violence and hate speech.
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