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Monday, April 8, 2013
International ROMA Day: Roma rights: rhetoric and reality The European Commission has the power to improve how the Roma are treated. Why is it not using that power? “It's about Europe. It's about you,” runs the official slogan marking 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. But if you happen to be one the European Union's six million Roma people, you might well be forgiven for not feeling included in such rhetoric. ■ As we mark International Roma Day on 8 April, one of Europe's largest ethnic minorities faces widespread discrimination, racial violence, forced evictions and segregation. More than a decade after EU anti-discrimination laws were adopted, EU member states are failing to effectively enforce these laws to combat this discrimination. ■ The EU's race-equality directive, adopted in 2000, clearly prohibits discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity in areas including access to goods and services, housing, employment and education. (ed note:F#CK a.i.) But as Amnesty International's new briefing, “Human rights here, Roma rights now”, points out, EU countries continue with discriminatory policies and practices in these areas, without effective challenge from the European Commission. ■ On housing, we and others have documented forced evictions of Roma communities in several EU countries, including Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovenia. Forcibly evicted Roma people are frequently moved to segregated housing, sometimes beside polluted sites or in clearly sub-standard houses.
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