ERRC Press Release: Planned Expulsion of Roma from Belgium


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Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 19:30:28 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: ERRC Press Release: Planned Expulsion of Roma from Belgium

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

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

ERRC Press Release: Planned Expulsion of Roma from Belgium


On April 21, 2000, 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 Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt to
express concern at reports that Belgium plans to expel Slovak Romani
asylum seekers. The letter was copied to Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister for the Budget, Social Integration and Social Economy Johan
Vande Lanotte, as well as to Minister for Home Affairs Mr Antoine
Duquesne. In the letter, the ERRC called Prime Minister Verhofstadt's
attention to the fact that the collective expulsion of aliens is in
contravention of Article 4 of Protocol 4 to the European Convention on
Human Rights. The ERRC additionally noted that discriminatory
treatment violates international legal provisions to which Belgium is
a party including Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, Articles 2 and 5 of the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Article 14
of the European Convention on Human Rights. The text of the ERRC
letter follows:
 
Honourable Prime Minister Verhofstadt,
 
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, is concerned at
media reports of statements by Belgian authorities to the effect that
(i) Belgium is undertaking measures to block the entry of Slovak
citizens from entry into Belgium and encouraging member states of the
European Union to block the entry of Slovak citizens into the EU and
(ii) that Belgium may soon engage in group expulsions of Slovak Romani
asylum seekers.
 
Slovak Roma have, in recent months, fled Slovakia and sought asylum in
Belgium. The issue of Slovak Roma became an issue of wide public
discussion in September 1999 after several inflammatory media reports.
Belgian authorities evidently caved in to popular pressure on October
5, 1999, when, over the protests of civil organisations and the
European Court of Human Rights, Belgium expelled 74 Romani asylum
seekers from Slovakia. The ERRC sent a letter to your office on
October 7, 1999, expressing deep concern over the expulsions, calling
your attention to their illegality under international law, and
appealing to you to ensure that Romani asylum applicants do not suffer
discriminatory treatment in Belgium in the future.
 
On April 18, the Belgian daily Morgen reported that a "New Collective
Expulsion of Gypsies" was  planned. According to the article,
following an order by the Ministry of the Interior, the local police
of Tienen started warning a number of Slovak asylum seekers on April
17 that they would soon be expelled unless they left the country
voluntarily. The article stated that "the mayor of Tienen, Marcel
Logist, confirms that these are Roma-Gypsies." He reportedly called
the Slovak asylum seekers an "invasion". On April 20, Morgen again
reported that "1500 Gypsies" from Slovakia and Bulgaria would be
expelled. Minister for Home Affairs Mr Antoine Duquesne reportedly
stated on Belgian television on April 20, "We have nothing against
Gypsies, but we see this as a test case for a humane asylum policy."
 
Honourable Prime Minister Verhofstadt, the collective expulsion of
aliens is in contravention of Article 4 of Protocol 4 to the European
Convention on Human Rights. Discriminatory treatment additionally
violates international legal provisions to which Belgium is a party
including Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, Articles 2 and 5 of the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Article 14
of the European Convention on Human Rights. We are deeply concerned
that although statements by Belgian authorities seem to indicate that
their actions may be in contravention of international law, they
appear to be seriously contemplating them in any case.
 
Sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director
 
Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:
 
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Wetstraat 16, Rue de la Loi
B-1000 Brussels
Belgium
Fax: (32 2) 512 69 53
 
Cc: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Budget, Social
Integration and Social Economy Johan Vande Lanotte
Koningsstraat 180, Rue Royale
B-1000 Brussels
Belgium
Fax: (32 2) 217 33 28
 
Cc: Minister for Home Affairs Mr Antoine Duquesne
Koningsstraat 60-62, Rue Royale
B-1000 Brussel
Belgium
Fax: (32 2) 504 85 00
 
*****************
 
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
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
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
transfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:
 
European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
99P00402686
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1
Hungary

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