Canada accused of racially profiling Roma travellers from Hungary at European airport
In an echo of the approach taken by the UK toward Romani air passengers from the Czech Republic in 2001, Romani citizens of Hungary say Canadian border officials are stopping them in Europe from boarding flights to Canada, according to thestar.com. Romani author Eva Kalla (age 60), a citizen of Hungary, was stopped at the airport in Vienna and referred to a Canadian border official who refused to let her fly to Toronto - even though EU citizens need no visas to do so.
“The woman asked me a series of questions: What the purpose of my trip was, how much money I had, who had paid for my airfare, and where I had gotten so much money," Kalla told The Star. "I explained I had no intention of immigrating to Canada. I had a job and my children in Hungary.”
“I was treated like a criminal," Kalla said. "They made me feel as if I had committed a serious crime. I am concerned that I was discriminated against based on my appearance, and that my intentions and the purpose of my travel were presumed based on such irrelevant factors.”
The Star reports that the Canadian Romani Alliance says Romani community complaints of racial profiling by Canadian border officials began in 2011, when asylum claims from Hungarian Roma peaked at 4 400 after visa restrictions were lifted. Asylum claims from citizens of Hungary declined dramatically after it was designated a “safe country” by Canada in late 2012.
Asylum claims filed by citizens of Hungary now receive expedited processing on the presumption that they will probably not be granted. The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board received only 400 asylum claims from Hungary in 2014, The Star reports.
Hungary has been intensively criticized at international level for several years and its designation as a "safe country" by Canada has been criticized as well. The Council of Europe has criticized it for anti-democratic developments including anti-Gypsyism, the EU has criticized treatment of Roma at local level in Hungary, and the UN has criticized the Hungarian Government's handling of the issue of immigration.
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