CAMBRIDGE, United States, 8 April 2013 – Greater efforts have to be made by states to combat discrimination and violence against Roma and Sinti, as well as to promote the integration of their communities, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said today, on the occasion of International Roma Day.
“Roma and Sinti continue to be the targets of hate-motivated attacks and to be marginalized socially, politically and economically in many OSCE participating States,” said Andrzej Mirga, the Head of the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues at ODIHR. “In some cases, these problems have been exacerbated by economic difficulties that have led to the scapegoating of Roma and Sinti, and to increased racism and violence targeting these communities.”
The OSCE Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues was established in 1994 to provide assistance to OSCE participating States in improving the situation of Roma and Sinti, including through eliminating the discrimination these communities face and promoting their greater integration.
Mirga was speaking at an event at Harvard University focusing on “Realizing Roma Rights: Addressing Violence, Discrimination, and Segregation in Europe”. The event was organized by the university’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Mahindra Humanities Center and Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, in co-operation with ODIHR.
The event brought together representatives from Roma civil society, the international community and academia to discuss policies to address the most urgent challenges facing the Roma community in Europe today. In addition to issues of racism and violence, participants also highlighted the need to address problems of structural discrimination in education as part of broader efforts to break the cycle of poverty and the exclusion suffered by many Roma.
“Ethnically discriminated people, like Roma, often suffer from atrocious poverty as well as social exclusion, which reinforce each other,” said Professor Amartya Sen, who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1998 for his work on welfare economics and the problems faced by the poorest members of societies. “The world has to acknowledge its responsibilities in removing the abysmal violation of the human rights of disfavoured groups that continues to occur.”
International Roma Day was established in 1990 to mark the date of the first international meeting of Romani representatives in Chelsfield, United Kingdom in 1971.