Governments must take more decisive steps to counter anti-Roma rhetoric and violence, said participants at the annual OSCE human rights conference in Warsaw on 27 September 2012.
During the annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, participants representing non-governmental organizations, governments and international organizations discussed recent anti-Roma marches and incidents of violence against Roma.
Participants expressed concerns that extreme-right groups continue to exploit anti-Roma prejudice and hostility in a number of OSCE participating States. Protests or marches organized against Roma and Sinti attract significant numbers of spectators or sympathizers, they noted.
“The authorities of participating States have to be aware of the danger this phenomenon poses for peace and cohesion in their societies,” said Andrzej Mirga, the ODIHR Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues. “Real efforts need to be made to counter these racist messages, to combat discrimination and to protect Roma from violence.”
“Lack of improvements in the situation of Roma, coupled with anti-Roma prejudice and scapegoating in times of economic and financial crisis, are root causes of the increase in anti-Roma rhetoric and violence,” said Dezideriu Gergely, Executive Director at the European Roma Rights Centre.
“Governments need to fulfill their responsibilities by properly investigating racially-motivated crimes in a timely manner and prosecuting offenders.”
In the 2003 Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, participating States committed to unequivocally and publicly condemning any violence targeting Roma and to taking all necessary measures to ensure access to effective remedies.