Roma asylum seekers in Europe
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by the Standing Committee, acting
on behalf of the Assembly, on 12 November 2010 (see Doc. 12393, report
of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, rapporteur:
Mr Pupovac). See also Recommendation 1941
1 In the last few years, Roma in
a number of member states of the Council of Europe have been the
target of racist attacks resulting in at least nine deaths, many
injuries and the destruction of property. This wave of violence
follows an upsurge in the visibility and activity of neo-Nazi groups.
2 The Parliamentary Assembly is concerned to note that the perpetrators
have rarely been brought to justice and is particularly worried
by the fact that, due to fear, threats and the lack of adequate
reaction by the authorities, several thousand Roma have left their
countries to seek asylum.
3 Whereas hundreds of Roma from the Czech Republic and Hungary
have been granted refugee status in Canada, applications for asylum
in European Union countries have automatically been rejected on
the basis of European Union legislation, which provides that all
European Union member states shall be considered “safe countries
of origin” with regard to asylum applications from citizens of these
4 If a citizen of a member state of the European Union wishes
to stay in the territory of another European Union member state
for longer than three months, he or she is obliged to show proof
of having sufficient financial means or having a job in the country.
Since many Roma from European Union countries cannot satisfy these
requirements, they can neither claim asylum in another European
Union country nor reside longer than three months in another member
state. Their remaining options are to seek asylum in a country outside
the European Union, become irregular migrants or go back to their
country of origin and risk persecution. All these options are highly
There are also a large number of Roma asylum seekers living
in Council of Europe member states who have been displaced for a
number of years following the conflicts in the Balkans and who are
now facing forced return to KosovoNote
. As a result of the conflict in Kosovo
about 120 000 Roma were forced to leave Kosovo and apply for asylum
in other European countries. Many applications were rejected, but
approximately 50 000 Roma from Kosovo still live in western European
countries, and another 50 000 in neighbouring countries, where they
have some form of temporary protection or are simply “tolerated”.
6 Member states have taken steps preparing for the return of
sizeable numbers of these Roma, despite strong warnings by the Council
of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights that these people will face
an unsustainable social situation with little chance of reintegration
upon return, as well as serious threats to their personal security.
Many of these Roma have children who were born, or have lived all
their lives, in the countries from which they are being returned.
As at May 2010, in Germany alone, around 10 000 Roma from Kosovo
were facing return. Half of this group consists of people under
the age of 18.
7 The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has stated
that of those Roma forcibly returned to Kosovo, between 70% and
75% have been unable to reintegrate and have undertaken secondary
movement or gone back to the deporting countries. Enforcing returns
is thus not only producing great human suffering, but is also wasting
8 Returning countries should realise that Kosovo will not be
able to reintegrate a large number of returnees. Such a situation
may lead to social unrest, which will hit Roma first and hardest.
Kosovo is still fragile and the authorities lack sufficient resources.
9 Furthermore, the Assembly rejects the view that Roma and related
groups need to be returned to Kosovo in order to achieve or to reinstate
ethnic pluralism. Whereas ethnic pluralism may be in itself something positive,
which should be promoted by giving Roma originating from Kosovo
a real and sustainable possibility to return, it is best achieved
on a voluntary basis, or not at all if it jeopardises the security
and human rights of the individuals concerned.
10 In order to successfully address the issue of Roma from Kosovo
in Council of Europe member states, a holistic approach will be
necessary, taking into account the rights and responsibilities of
the Roma, involving all the countries in the region, the European
Union, the Council of Europe and civil society. It will also be necessary
to have a common strategy at European Union and Council of Europe
levels. Civil society should be invited to play a greater role in
the reintegration process.
11 It is promising that the authorities in the countries of the
former Yugoslavia are co-operating in order to find durable solutions
for displaced Roma and to ensure that they have effective access
to adequate personal documents, so as to clarify their status and
gain access to their rights and benefits, and also, where relevant, apply
for long-term residence or citizenship. The Assembly supports this
process, in which Kosovo should be included, and encourages the
countries of the former Yugoslavia to continue addressing these
issues until satisfactory solutions have been found. It urges them
not to return Roma to Kosovo until and unless genuine durable solutions
have been found.
Against the backdrop of these issues, and drawing attention
to its Resolution 1740
on the situation of Roma in Europe and relevant
activities of the Council of Europe, the Assembly urges the member states
of the Council of Europe to:
that all asylum applications are considered on the basis of their
individual merits according to fair and efficient refugee status
12.2 consider the plight of Roma sympathetically and seek ways
in which to accommodate those who are citizens of one European Union
member state and who are refused asylum in another European Union
12.3 comply fully with their obligations under international
human rights law, including the European Convention on Human Rights
(ETS No. 5), by preventing attacks on Roma, and eradicating practical impunity
by effectively and promptly investigating all crimes against Roma.
This includes examining whether the crimes have racist motivations,
bringing the perpetrators to justice and, if found guilty, punishing
12.4 improve the safety and security of Roma and do their utmost
to eradicate racism and xenophobia by working actively and persistently
at national and local levels in order to enhance understanding and communication
between Roma and non-Roma in society. To do this, member states
should use, inter alia, the
toolkit of the Council of Europe Dosta! Campaign “Dosta! Enough!
Go beyond prejudice, discover the Roma!”;
12.5 ensure that, within the limits of the right to freedom
of expression enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention
on Human Rights, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights,
the media refrain from disseminating hate speech or from the demonisation
of Roma migrants or asylum seekers.
13 The Assembly calls upon all politicians in member states to
strongly and publicly condemn all forms of racism and stigmatisation
14 The Assembly calls on the European Union to reconsider its
rules on asylum seekers who are citizens of one European Union member
state and who lodge their applications in another, and to ensure
that the legislation and practice in its member states provide for
the opportunity to rebut the presumption of safety, also in cases
of flight within the European Union, in order to ensure that Roma
asylum seekers and other asylum seekers from European Union member
states do not find themselves in a state of limbo.
Recalling its Recommendation
on the situation in Kosovo and the role of
the Council of Europe, the Assembly furthermore calls on member
15.1 reconsider their
return policies with regard to rejected Roma asylum seekers from
Kosovo and to consider offering them the possibility of local integration,
including naturalisation options, taking into account their ties
with their host country and the duration of their displacement;
15.2 respond sensitively to the return of Roma to Kosovo, in
order to ensure that their human rights are fully safeguarded, that
the return is staged in a sustainable way and that the merits of
each individual case are examined, including the ties which have
been established with the host country.
As and when returns of Roma to Kosovo take place, the Assembly
urges the authorities of member states and organisations involved
in the returns to take all appropriate measures to ensure that:
16.1 all concerned have an effective
opportunity to have their international protection needs assessed prior
16.2 returns are conducted in an orderly, gradual and dignified
manner, and in co-operation with the relevant authorities;
16.3 returns are co-ordinated to avoid problems of capacity
for reception and integration and that information on vulnerable
returnees is provided to the authorities in Kosovo;
16.4 where returns of Roma to Kosovo are enforced on the basis
of readmission agreements, these are conducted with transparency
and in compliance with international refugee law and human rights standards;
16.5 the Council of Europe’s 20 guidelines on forced return
are complied with.
17 The Assembly calls on the authorities in Kosovo and the international
stakeholders to step up their efforts to fully integrate Roma who
are returned to Kosovo, to ensure that their human rights are respected
and protected, and that they have access to justice.
18 The Assembly invites the Commissioner for Human Rights to
continue monitoring the situation of racist violence against Roma
in Council of Europe member states, as well as the problems associated
with Roma returns to Kosovo and the compatibility of such returns
with relevant Council of Europe standards.
The Assembly invites the European Commission against Racism
and Intolerance to:
19.1 give priority
attention in its country-by-country work to the issue of racist
violence causing Roma to go abroad and claim asylum;
19.2 make policy recommendations to member states on how to
deal with anti-Gypsyism.