ERRC Letter to the Interior Minister of Finland


Reply-To: minelres-l@riga.lv
Sender: minelres-l@riga.lv
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 09:21:24 +0300 (EET DST)
Message-Id: <377C5753.AF64742B@mailbox.riga.lv>
Subject: ERRC Letter to the Interior Minister of Finland

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Claude Cahn <ClaudeCahn@compuserve.com>

ERRC Letter to the Interior Minister of Finland


On June 30, 1999, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an
international public interest law organisation which monitors the
rights of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights
abuse, sent a letter to Mr Kari H=E4k=E4mies, the Interior Minister of
Finland, to call attention to the situation of Roma from Slovakia who
have fled to Finland in recent days; to urge that Finnish authorities
consider claims for asylum by Slovak Roma in accordance with Finland's
obligations under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees; and
to urge that Finnish authorities not impose a visa regime on Slovak
citizens in response to the issue. The text of the letter sent by the
ERRC follows:
 
Dear Mr Minister,
 
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public
interest law organisation which monitors the human rights situation of
Roma in Europe, wishes to express its concern for the Slovak Roma who
have recently claimed asylum in Finland.
 
Roma living in Slovakia are victims of discrimination and human rights
abuses and the authorities have systematically failed to guarantee
their rights and to provide remedy in cases when their rights have
been violated.

Hate speech against Roma is common. Skinhead assaults on Roma are
frequent and have not been investigated properly and impartially.
Where prosecution occurs there is a trend to deny the racial animus of
the crimes.
 
The ERRC urges the Government to consider claims for political asylum
coming from Slovak Roma in accordance with its obligations under the
1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. The ERRC firmly believes
that many Roma from Slovakia may be able to claim persecution on the
basis of their ethnicity. In such cases persecution would be the
cumulative result of racial discrimination and harassment. For many
Roma in Slovakia systematic racial mistreatment begins in early
childhood and is a fact in practically all areas of life. The United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed a similar attitude,
concluding in the 1998 Guidelines Relating to the Eligibility of
Slovak Roma Asylum Seekers that "it is clear that Slovak Roma may well
be able to substantiate refugee claims based on severe discrimination
on ethnic grounds".
 
Furthermore, Mr Minister, the ERRC urges the Government to refrain
from the introduction of a visa requirement in response to the current
situation. As the experience in Slovakia has shown since the
reintroduction of a visa requirement by the United Kingdom, such a
reaction only serves to increase the animosity of the majority
population towards the Roma, and ensures that Romani refugees are
effectively denied the right to seek asylum in the country which has
imposed the visa requirement. The ERRC does not consider this to be a
solution. An introduction of visas for Slovak citizens would most
probably result only in the aggravation and prolongation of the
problem.
 
Yours sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director
 
Persons wishing to voice concern to Finnish authorities are urged to
contact Mr Kari H=E4k=E4mies at:
                                                 =
Minister for Interior
Ministry of Interior of Finland
PO Box 257
FIN-00171 Helsinki
Finland
Fax: 00 358 9 160 2887
 
*****************
 
The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest
law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://errc.org. 
 
European Roma Rights Center
H-1525 Budapest 114
PO Box 10/24
Hungary
 
Telephone: (36 1) 42 82 351
Fax: (36 1) 42 82 356
 
*****************
 
SUPPORT THE ERRC!
 
The European Roma Rights Center is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank
tranfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:
 
European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1
Hungary

-- 
==============================================================
MINELRES - a forum for discussion on minorities in Central&Eastern
Europe

Submissions: minelres-l@riga.lv  
Subscription/inquiries: minelres@mailbox.riga.lv 
List archive: http://www.riga.lv/minelres/archive.htm
==============================================================