OSCE warns against stigmatizing Roma
Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw, said today he shared concerns about recent developments in France affecting Roma migrants and Travellers, and warned that such actions risked fueling intolerance and discrimination.
He said he was troubled by the approach of French authorities to the matter of the legal status of Roma migrants in the aftermath of riots by some French Travellers. The riots followed the fatal shooting by police of a member of their community.
"Recent developments in France come against the background of continuing and growing intolerance toward Roma in a number of countries, as well as insufficient efforts by many OSCE participating States to create conditions for the sustainable integration of Roma individuals and communities," said Lenarcic.
He stressed that "implicating the Roma and Travellers collectively in criminal activities based on individual cases could only contribute to stigmatizing these communities". He added that official statements by the French authorities on the policy of evicting Roma from illegal settlements and offering them financial incentives to return to their country of origin raised questions as to whether individual migrants' rights to due process are being respected.
Lenarcic emphasized that public officials needed to be especially sensitive to the risk that statements about Roma could further encourage anti-Roma public discourse and prejudice, which could fuel intolerance, discrimination and even acts of violence against members of these communities.
As an OSCE participating State, France has undertaken commitments, outlined in the OSCE Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, to implement concrete measures to eradicate discrimination against Roma and Sinti, and ensure that they are able to play a full and equal part in the societies in which they live.
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