Recent case judgments and pending cases of the European Court for Human Rights concerning Roma and Travellers.
2018 findings of the ECSR through the collective
complaints procedure. As this is the report on the violations and follow up activities of the ESC, noted violations regarding Roma concentrate on: Housing and evictions and Access to health in combination with discrimination.
Recommendation (2017)10 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on improving access to justice for Roma and Travellers in Europe is now available in Montenegrin and Serbian on the OPRE online library
Updated fact sheet on Roma related cases in the European Court of Human Rights
The most notable recent case: Škorjanec v. Croatia
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) under its procedural aspect in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention, finding that the Croatian authorities had failed in their obligations under the Convention when rejecting the applicant’s criminal complaint without conducting further investigation prior to their decision. The Court noted in particular that, under Convention case law, a person may be a victim of a violent hate crime not only when they have been attacked because they themselves have a certain characteristic – but also when they are attacked because they have an actual or presumed association with another person, who has (or is perceived to have) that characteristic. States have an obligation to recognise both types as hate crimes, and investigate them accordingly. However, in this case the Croatian authorities had repeatedly failed to take the necessary care in identifying the violence against the applicant as a suspected hate crime.
The European Commission
against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published its revised General Policy
Recommendation No 2: Equality Bodies to combat racism and intolerance at
national level, adopted on 7 December 2017.
Spain should create a strong equality body and
improve education of Roma and migrants, says Council of Europe anti-racism body
In a report published today, the Council of Europe anti-racism commission (ECRI) calls on the Spanish authorities to create a strong independent equality body, to adopt new comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and to improve the education of Roma and migrant children. The report also acknowledges significant progress in a number of areas.
ECRI welcomes the achievement of targets for the re-housing of Roma and good practices to prevent school-absenteeism and early school drop-out among Roma children. However, it also points out that the rehousing programmes have contributed to residential and school segregation and that only 45% of Roma children complete compulsory education.
In Spain prejudice exists in particular against Muslims, Roma and LGTB persons. ECRI points out that many cases of hate speech and hate crime are not reported to the authorities. While hate speech is not common in the Spanish mainstream political discourse, it has sharply risen on the Internet and social media. Media regulators do not enough to prevent and eliminate it. The report welcomes the progress achieved in the recording of hate crime, the improvement of anti-hate crime legislation, the establishment of a network of hate crime prosecutors and the dissolution of two racist organisations.
The report makes 17 recommendations to the Spanish authorities. Within two years ECRI will evaluate compliance with two of them that it considers to be priority recommendations:
The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has urged the Romanian authorities to step up their efforts to combat discrimination, against the Roma in particular, and to improve the protection of national minorities in a number of areas. Prejudice against the Roma remains a matter of
considerable concern. Despite the resolute stance of the National Council for
Combating Discrimination, the court rulings and statements from the
authorities, racist incidents continue to be reported. Roma continue to suffer discrimination in access
to housing, employment, health care and education. In spite of the authorities' efforts to eradicate it, Roma segregation in schools is still reported. According to different surveys, 22% of Roma children do not attend school and Roma constitute 70% of school dropouts. Evictions of Roma have continued without adequate alternative housing being proposed.
In its first evaluation report on Albania, the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) commends legislative and other measures taken by the national authorities, but calls for additional steps to address all forms of violence against women. Furthermore, the report finds that Albania has until now placed more emphasis on domestic violence compared to violence against women. More efforts are needed to effectively tackle all forms of violence against women, including forced marriage, sexual harassment and sexual violence.
The European Parliament recently adopted a report on the “Fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: fighting anti-Gypsyism” (2017/2038(INI)) highlighting the persistent antigypsyism at all levels of Europe.
Recommendation (2017)10 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on improving access to justice for Roma and Travellers in Europe
Roma in Albania are officially recognized as a national minority according to law No.96/2017 on the "Protection of National Minorities in the Republic of Albania", which was adopted on 13 October 2017 by the Albanian parliament. Following several advocacy initiatives, debates, public hearings and senior expert advice provided by the EU/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility Project "Strengthening the Protection of National Minorities in Albania" to the Parliamentary Committee of Legal Issues, Public Administration and Human Rights, Roma are currently entitled to the rights deriving from this recognition as one of the nine national minorities in the country (Article 3; paragraph 2).
This new formal recognition marks a very important achievement for Roma in Albania, granting them rights guaranteed by this law, which raises the level of their protection in comparison to their previous legal status as ethno-linguistic minority. Several positive rights emanate from this recent legal development directly affecting the lives of Roma in Albania. Roma shall be entitled to equal and effective participation in public, cultural, social and economic life and to the preservation of their cultural identity; they have the right to education in the minority language and to freedom of expression, thought and information (Articles 11, 12, 13 and 14). Discrimination on cultural, ethnic, or linguistic grounds is prohibited. Roma are now in a better position to continue their efforts for the promotion and protection of Romani culture as an integral part of the Albanian society.
Roma will henceforth be represented in the Committee for National Minorities, the national body reporting to the Prime Minister, with a specific mandate on the promotion of policies targeting national minorities and management responsibilities of the fund for national minorities supported by the state budget. It is expected that the Committee for National Minorities will be fully functional upon entry into force of the law and endorsement of infra-statutory legislation.
The official document in Albanian can be retrieved here.
Combating Institutional Anti-Gypsyism . Responses and promising practices in the EU
The notion of 'anti-Gypsyism' aims to refocus public policies addressing Roma discrimination in order to place responsibility for combating structural, historically-embedded and systemic forms of racism, discrimination and exclusion towards Roma squarely on state institutions and actors. This report examines the ways in which policies and funding combat 'anti-Gypsyism' in the European Union and selected Member States and assesses the added value of the 'anti-Gypsyism' concept, with particular reference to its institutional forms.
Valley Police (TVP) commissioned an independent review of the Force's policies and procedures which directly impact on the GRT communities within the Thames Valley. This is a report written by Margaret Greenfields from Bucks New University, a police policy officer and PC Jim Davies of the Gypsy / Roma / Traveller Police Association (GRTPA) Thames.
The report produced 13 recommendations, many of which would apply to most forces, including:-
Updated European Court of Human Rights' factsheets on Roma and Traveller related case law uploaded on OPRE website documents (in English and French)
"It is crucial that the French authorities provide all those who have been forced to leave the ‘Petite ceinture’ camp – including children and elderly people – with adequate, alternative accommodation, particularly as they have decided to take this action during winter", said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
"Last year an estimated 11,000 Roma people were evicted from their homes in France.
There is no evidence to suggest that a policy of mass forced eviction will bring a lasting solution to the exclusion and prejudice many Roma face.
On the contrary, forced evictions can prove counter-productive as they often disrupt the schooling of Roma children and hamper the efforts of those who provide basic healthcare to Roma communities, for example through vaccination campaigns."
Notes for editors: relevant European Court of Human Rights judgment: Winterstein and Others v. France (French language court judgment)
This case in the Council of Europe European Court of Human Rights concerned eviction proceedings brought against a number of traveller families who had been living in the same place for many years. The domestic courts issued orders for the families’ eviction, on pain of penalty for non-compliance. Although the orders were not enforced, many of the families moved out. Only four families were provided with alternative accommodation in social housing; the so-called family sites where the remaining families were to be accommodated were not created. The 14 applicants complained in particular that the order requiring them to vacate the land they had occupied for many years amounted to a violation of their right to respect for their private and family lives and their homes.
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and home) of the Convention. It noted in particular that the courts, despite acknowledging the lack of urgency and of any manifestly unlawful nuisance, had not taken into account the lengthy period for which the applicants had been settled, the municipal authorities’ toleration of the situation, the right to housing, the provisions of Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention and the Court’s case-law. The Court pointed out in that connection that numerous international and Council of Europe instruments stressed the need, in cases of forced eviction of Roma or travellers, to provide the persons concerned with alternative accommodation. The national authorities had to take into account the fact that such applicants belonged to a vulnerable minority; this implied paying special consideration to their needs and their different way of life when it came to devising solutions to the unlawful occupation of land or deciding on possible alternative accommodation.
In the aftermath of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th 2015, the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsmen (AOM) has issued a Declaration to express solidarity with those affected directly and the French society at large, as well to condemn the brutal acts of terrorist violence.
Declaration of AOM regarding the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13th 2015
The Association of Mediterranean Ombudsmen (AOM) expresses its deep grief and conveys condolences for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and those injured by the terrorist acts in Paris on the 13
th of November 2015. AOM strongly condemns these acts of terrorism, as grave and tragically painful acts perpetrated not only towards the French society but indeed all democratic countries.
On this occasion AOM affirms its solidarity with the French people and the French authorities, hereby expressing the maximum readiness to provide support in overcoming these daunting difficult days, as well as in addressing terrorism as a shared global threat.
AOM expresses the resolute persuasion that the brutal massacres shall not undermine the upholding of the highest values cherished and cultivated by the French society, as a model of democracy, freedom, respect for human rights, tolerance and coexistence.
On 6 October, the Albanian Ombudsman launched an administrative inquiry into the expected relocation of a number of Roma families residing in shacks on the banks of Tirana's artificial lake. The Ombudsman asked the Municipality of Tirana to explain the legal basis of their decision and the measures they intend to take to shelter the Roma families that are to be relocated.
Sandalous verdict acquits police of toturing Romani children
Court in Budapest punishes racist murders with three life sentences, fourth perpetrator gets 13 years.
D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic
Placement of applicants, school children of Roma origin, in "special schools" intended for pupils with learning disabilities had not been justified. Violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention in conjunction with Article 2 (right to education) of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.
A relevant case in the UK where Roma were turned away by Canadian airlines. The case is called R (European Roma Rights) v Prague
Immigration Officer  UKHL 55 and the immigration officers in Prague were found to be
inherently and systematically discriminatory against Roma, contrary to the Race
Relations Act 1976 (replaced by the Equality Act 2010; (Directive 2000/43 is the relevant European law here).
The court determined that these actions were “contrary
to domestic and customary international law and international treaties to which
the UK was a party”, in particular the 1951 Refugee Convention.
This case could offer legal precedence to other recent similar cases where Roma are being turned away by airline and customs staff at various airports in the EU.