OSCE calls on governments to combat discrimination against the Roma people

To mark International Roma Day (8 April), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has reminded members that the Roma community still suffers discrimination at all levels and in all countries.

The Roma people, the most widespread minority population in Europe, still live apart from mainstream society and face discrimination in education, employment, housing, health care and other public services. These were the words of the Director of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Christian Strohal, on the eve of International Roma Day. Strohal called on governments and local authorities to “step up efforts to eradicate discrimination of Roma and ensure their full participation in society.”

In 2003, OSCE members adopted an Action Plan that committed them to taking action against the discrimination and racism that the Roma people continue to face across Europe. Five years on, these communities “continue to face enormous challenges in realizing their rights as equal citizens”, according to Strohal. Next July OSCE members will meet again to review and update the Action Plan.

A European pressure group
Yesterday the European Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC), a group of NGOs that want to put pressure on the EU to take action against anti-Roma discrimination, met in Brussels. The eight members of the ERPC include international and general NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Minority Rights Group, as well as regional organizations that focus on Roma issues, such as European Roma Information Office and European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). The coalition has issued a document detailing the steps the EU has taken in the past and, more importantly, the steps that it should take in the future.

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