The relation between the police and Roma and Sinti communities is crucial in many ways. Roma and Sinti are often targets of racially motivated discrimination and violence. They need to be able to fully rely on the police for protection against - and the full investigation of - hate-motivated crimes.
At the same time, the police face the challenge of effectively policing Roma and Sinti communities that often view such efforts with suspicion and mistrust, fed by a long history of abuse and discrimination at the hands of various state authorities.
In the 2003 OSCE Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, participating States recognized the importance of good relations between the police and Roma and Sinti communities for the overall goal of combating discrimination and racial violence, and for ensuring that Roma and Sinti people are able to play a full and equal part in society. Participating States committed themselves to a number of measures aimed at closing the gap between international standards on police and existing national practices.
Seven years after the adoption of the Action Plan, a number of initiatives of good practice have been developed regarding policing and Roma and Sinti. At the same time, much remains to be done to fully implement the commitments contained in the Action Plan. Sadly, cases of police misconduct and tensions between law enforcement agencies and Roma and Sinti communities continue to be widely reported from many participating States.
This publication aims to assist participating States in implementing their commitments under the Action Plan by identifying principles and good practices that can be used in efforts to improve relations between the police and Roma and Sinti communities.