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Ahead of Roma Day, PACE rapporteur denounces growing ‘anti-Gypsyism’ in Europe

Strasbourg, 06.04.2010 – On the eve of International Roma Day, József Berényi (Slovak Republic, EPP/CD), rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the situation of Roma in Europe, has denounced “an increasing trend towards anti-Gypsyism of the worst kind” and called for an urgent probe into why efforts to help Roma over the last 20 years have all but failed.

“I am shocked by the very often deplorable, not to say scandalous situation faced by Roma in terms of access to education, employment, health services and housing, as well as in terms of social integration,” Mr Berényi says in a report due to be debated shortly by the Assembly. “It is a shamefully poor record considering the amount of paper – and money – dedicated to improving the situation of Roma at all levels.”

Despite these efforts, the Roma continue to face “deep-seated prejudice” in many European countries, he pointed out, where they are used as scapegoats by extrems capitalising on the economic uncertainty of the financial crisis and fears that they are involved in criminality.

Better access for Roma to school and university, as well as housing, were essential first steps in order to break “the vicious circle of discrimination” in which most Roma were locked, he said. Governments should also start collecting, subject to safeguards to prevent abuse, statics based on ethnicity – which would make it easier to evaluate the effectiveness of national strategies to help Roma – and take positive measures to increase the participation of Roma in public and political life, including within the Parliamentary Assembly.