Ahead of International Roma Day, ODIHR Director Link urges states to capitalize on Roma and Sinti’s potential for European societies
WARSAW, 7 April 2017 – Stronger efforts to include Roma and Sinti communities and a commitment to capitalize on the potential they offer for European societies is key to sustainable results in improving the situation of Roma and Sinti, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said today in a statement ahead of tomorrow’s International Roma Day.
“Across Europe, the exclusion of Roma and Sinti from full participation in the political, economic and social spheres has the effect of robbing societies of the contributions they can make to the wealth of those same societies in so many different areas. This particularly applies to powerful women’s voices,” said ODIHR Director Link. “It is vital that the authorities and their political leaders recognize these voices by ensuring the full and effective participation of Roma and Sinti, including that of Roma and Sinti women.”
Director Link stressed that unlocking the potential of Roma and Sinti individuals to benefit the societies in which they live required direct action to improve their situation.
“International Roma Day is a time to reflect on the discrimination and challenges millions of Roma and Sinti continue to face in their daily lives in areas including education, employment, housing, healthcare and policing,” said Director Link. “Our Office works to combat the exclusion and isolation of Roma throughout Europe and also places great importance on supporting Roma and Sinti, including women and youth, so they themselves can become agents for change. Authorities in OSCE participating States, at both the national and local levels, have a responsibility to work to eradicate the marginalization and discrimination of Roma and Sinti in their countries.”
ODIHR’s Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues is tasked with assisting OSCE participating States in effectively implementing OSCE commitments on improving the situation of Roma and Sinti by sharing expertise with, providing assistance to, and raising awareness and assessing progress in those countries to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti. International Roma Day was established in 1990 to mark the date of the first international meeting of Roma representatives in Chelsfield, United Kingdom, in 1971.