Press release: ERRC country report - Roma in Romania


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Subject: Press release: ERRC country report - Roma in Romania

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

Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>

Press release: ERRC country report - Roma in Romania


September 10, 2001
 
Press Release
Announcement of Publication
ERRC Country Report
 
State of Impunity: Human Rights Abuse of Roma in Romania
 
Contact:
Claude Cahn
Research and Publications Director
(36 1) 4132200
(36 20) 9836445
ccahn@errc.org
ClaudeCahn@compuserve.com
 
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) announces publication of State
of Impunity: Human Rights Abuse of Roma in Romania, an ERRC Country
Report.

Impunity is an unwritten covenant according to which actions against
Roma are not governed by the same rules as those for non-Roma. Actions
against Roma - by violent attack, denial of basic rights, or by the
blatant or 
subtle forces of racial discrimination - as a rule go unpunished or
inadequately punished in Romania. Major episodes of community violence
against Roma - deadly pogroms featuring mass arson and mob killing -
have resulted in travesties of justice, where legal action has been
taken at all. Impunity extends to nearly all spheres of social life in
Romania: even those Roma spared the indignity and suffering of
racially motivated violence live daily in a state of impunity, in
practice unprotected from unequal treatment.

ERRC monitoring of Roma rights in Romania has established that Romani
victims have been overwhelmingly denied the right to justice and
compensation for crimes committed against them, including crimes
committed during the savage pogroms in the early 1990s. Intensive
field missions conducted in May 2000 and January 2001, as well as
regular reporting by ERRC local monitors in Romania, reveal that when
Roma rights violations occur, non-prosecution of perpetrators is the
norm. Immunity from prosecution is nearly guaranteed when the
suspected culprits are police officers.

As a result of a climate of impunity, violence against Roma continues
to be reported with worrying frequency and intensity. The majority of
serious abuses reported concern incidents involving police officers.
Reported 
police abuse of Roma includes:

 abusive police raids targeting Romani communities;
 torture and ill-treatment of Roma in police custody;
 racist intimidation and harassment of Romani victims of police
abuse;
 instances of unwarranted use of firearms causing injury and
sometimes death.

ERRC monitoring of police attitudes towards Roma in Romania suggests
that racial prejudice on the part of law enforcement authorities is a
determining factor in the abusive treatment of Roma by the police.
Police violence against Roma in Romania persists in an environment in
which racist stereotyping of Roma is rampant. The relationship between
Roma and the police in Romania is burdened from the outset by the
widely held belief that Roma are criminals. Police abuse proceeds from
a basic suspicion of guilt of the Roma by police officers, as well as
an overall tendency to use force as a component of criminal
investigations. Judicial authorities tacitly endorse such practices by
lending undue weight to confessions in criminal cases, as well as by
their inactivity in prosecuting officers for reported physical abuse
of suspects. The status of the police as an organ of the military, and
its concomitant position within the jurisdiction of military courts,
also contributes to its insulation from accountability.

The climate of impunity pervading the Romanian criminal justice system
is not hermetically sealed from the rest of Romanian society. Little
effective work has been undertaken to date by Romanian authorities on
issues such as:

 Abuse of political rights of Roma in Romania;
 Child homelessness;
 Child Institutionalisation;
 Denial of the right to education.

Finally, racial discrimination against Roma occurs with alarming
frequency in Romania. Areas of particular concern include:

 Discrimination in the provision of housing;
 Discrimination in employment;
 Discrimination in access to goods and services;
 The present inadequacy of Romania's legal provisions in the area of
anti-discrimination.

The ERRC report concludes with a number of recommendations to the
Romanian government, aimed at improving the human rights situation of
Roma in Romania. The ERRC report is published simultaneously in
English and Romanian. The Executive Summary of State of Impunity:
Human Rights Abuse of Roma in Romania is available, in English and
Romanian, on the internet at: 
http://errc.org/publications/reports/index.shtml . The full text of
the ERRC report can be downloaded from:
http://www.errc.org/publications/reports/index.shtml .

At the 1999 Istanbul Summit, the OSCE Heads of State declared that:
"We deplore violence and other manifestations of racism and
discrimination against minorities, including Roma and Sinti. We commit
ourselves to ensure that laws and policies fully respect the rights of
Roma and Sinti and, where necessary, to promote anti-discrimination
legislation to this effect." Publication of State of Impunity: Human
Rights Abuse of Roma in Romania is timed to coincide with an ad hoc
meeting on Roma issues of the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), held in Bucharest September 10-13,
2001. In January 2001, Romania took up the chair of the OSCE. On the
occasion of publication of the ERRC report, ERRC Executive Director
Dimitrina Petrova said:

"The OSCE chair offers an excellent opportunity to the Romanian
government to improve its record on Roma rights. The Romanian
government must ensure that ERRC concerns are carefully examined and
ERRC recommendation adopted in full."

***

Persons wishing to receive copies of the ERRC report in English or
Romanian are urged to contact the ERRC at:

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201
E-mail: office@errc.org

The ERRC requests donations of 20 USD or 25 euros per report, to be
made by bank transfer to:

European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathori utca 1
Hungary

Simply making a bank transfer will not activate a request for reports. 
Please notify the ERRC office upon making such a bank transfer,
including 
total number of copies of the report desired, as well as total sum
transferred.

Summary in Romani

.........
(omitted) 

_____________________________________________

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://www.errc.org

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201
_____________________________________________

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
transfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:

European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1
Hungary

For correspondence, to subscribe and unsubscribe from this list,
please use office@errc.org

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