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European Roma Rights Centre Wins SOLIDAR Award for Promoting Roma Rights in Europe
Brussels, 2 February 2010 - In a ceremony at the European Parliament tomorrow evening, SOLIDAR will award the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) its annual Silver Rose Award for their ongoing struggle to promote Roma rights in Europe where they face continuous and escalating racial discrimination.
“Despite many political initiatives from the EU and national governments, Roma communities still suffer massive discrimination in all areas of life, discrimination which keeps them in poverty and condemns them to being excluded from the community at large. They are denied rights to housing, employment and education and are often victims of forced evictions”, explained Conny Reuter, Secretary General of SOLIDAR.
In Italy forced evictions of Roma communities have been carried out for at least ten years. In Serbia around 250 Romani people, including small children and the elderly, were evicted from their temporary settlements in April 2009. In Kosovo Roma communities are living in campsites on wasteland contaminated by poisonous lead.
Additionally, hate speech and violent attacks against Roma in Central and Eastern Europe are on the increase along with incidences of reported violence in some EU member states. Measures taken by law enforcement authorities to investigate reported crimes appear to be inefficient and highly inadequate according to the limited information available, creating a climate of impunity.
In 2005, leaders from 12 European countries adopted the ‘Decade of Roma Inclusion’ initiative, an unprecedented political commitment by European governments to improve the socio-economic status and social inclusion of Roma. The initiative brings together governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations and Romani civil society, to accelerate progress toward improving the welfare of Roma and to review such progress in a transparent and quantifiable way from 2005-2015.
“We’re now half way through the Decade, and despite all the ambitious promises that were made, we simply can’t see the results”, said Rob Kushen, President of the ERRC. “This award serves as an important reminder that the ideals of the European Union require equal rights for all its citizens, including Roma. We are grateful that SOLIDAR has chosen through this award to highlight the ongoing problems of Europe's largest minority", he concluded.