A UN rights expert on Monday urged [press release] EU member states [official list] to do more to ensure that Roma [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] peoples receive the support necessary to fully enjoy all their basic human rights. As Monday was International Roma Day, UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues Rita Izsak [official profile] commended the international community for its efforts in protecting the Roma people but stated that "political and legislative commitments must be implemented in reality to bring the so much needed changes into the lives of Roma." It is estimated that 12 million Roma live in Europe, with sizable populations residing in Latin America, spanning all ages, regions and populations. The UN reported that most of them live in the margins of society and are forced daily to deal with struggles such as forced sterilization, discrimination in employment, deportation and inability to obtain identification documents. Izsak called on the European nations to "go beyond words and take action" to punish and prevent these types of discrimination.
Izsak's statement is the latest in a series of reports advocating for more support for the Roma people and an end to discriminatory practices by European countries and populations. Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] claimed that the EU was not doing enough to protect Roma across member states and demanded that sanctions be implemented [JURIST report] for failing to address the discrimination and violence. In January, the European Court of Human Rights [official website] condemned [JURIST report] Hungary for segregating Roma students and wrongly placing them in remedial schools. In September, AI also urged Italy to change its discriminatory policies [JURIST report] against the country's Roma. AI had voiced a similar sentiment [JURIST report] a month earlier to the government of Hungary. In August, the UN urged the international community to end discrimination against Roma, while advocating for a comprehensive anti-discrimination law [JURIST reports] to be adopted in Moldova that would protect the Roma people as well as a number of other groups. More than a year ago, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] also called on [JURIST report] the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop discriminating against Roma.