European Roma Rights Centre reports on human rights violations against Romani people during the pandemic this spring
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) released a report on 9 September about the human rights violations that were committed against Romani people in 12 European countries during the spring wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, entitled "Roma Rights in the Time of COVID", demonstrates the degeree to which Romani people were affected by discrimination and institutional racism during the first half of 2020.
"From February to June 2020, when the attention of the world was focused on the COVID-19 illness, Romani people were being attacked and harassed by racist police officers, were being forcibly evicted, scapegoated by ultra-right political parties and denied access to health care," the ERRC says in the report, which describes the situation in Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Moldavia, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine. The report describes in detail how Romani children were denied access to education, how the quarantining of Romani people was undertaken in some countries, and how some media outlets used deceptive, exaggerated allegations that led to the demonization of Romani communities.
"This happens when they believe nobody is watching them," ERRC president Đorđe Jovanović said. "Generally speaking, it is the case that if a chaotic situation arises such as the one we are now in, those in power demonstrate how they actually want to behave toward miniorities and those who are different, which means showing them no mercy. The lack of empathy and solidarity with Romani people that we have seen during this time is very disturbing."
The report also contains recommendations both to the European Commission and to individual states on how to address the questions of systemic discrimination that affect Romani people. The ERRC has called on international bodies to make sure emergency measures do not become routine during the pandemic.
The report also counts on local authorities developing plans for renewal once the pandemic is over that will be inclusive and that will take into consideration the dignity and rights of Romani people and all other minorities throughout Europe. While the report offers a summary of the human rights violations committed during the pandemic, the ERRC believes such information must be viewed against the background of the all but absolute economic and social exclusion to which Romani people are customarily subjected.
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