Major gaps still divide Roma from mainstream populations across Europe, says OSCE report

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Vendredi 3 Octobre 2008

Major gaps still divide Roma from mainstream populations across Europe, says OSCE report
Roma and Sinti populations continue to face discrimination and remain divided from mainstream society across Europe, says an OSCE report launched on the margins of the Organization's annual human rights conference in Warsaw today.

The report, prepared by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), says significant gaps remain in areas such as education, housing, employment and access to social services and justice.

The report reviews progress made by governments in implementing an OSCE Action Plan on improving the situation of Roma and Sinti adopted in 2003.

"Five years after the adoption of the OSCE Action Plan, we unfortunately have to conclude that progress has been minimal," said Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the Director of ODIHR.

"The picture is still bleak, and it is clear that improving the situation of Roma and Sinti is unfinished business."

The report stresses that, in a positive step, many OSCE states have tightened their anti-discrimination legislation and adopted national policies and strategies to address the situation of Roma and Sinti during the past years.

"Too often, however, the implementation process suffers from a lack of political will at the national level, and from a failure to implement policies at the local level," says the report.

Insufficient funding, and scattered and piecemeal programmes mean that efforts to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti have been largely ad hoc and symbolic, with little hope of long-term sustainability.

"We do not need any more new declarations, strategies and policy papers. What we need is a genuine commitment by the OSCE participating States to take the existing Action Plan seriously, and use it as a concrete road map for tangible action to end the discrimination of Roma and Sinti," said Andrzej Mirga, the head of ODIHR's Contact Point on Roma and Sinti Issues.

Finnish State Secretary, Teija Tiilikainen, who represented the 2008 Finnish OSCE Chairmanship, called on states to implement the Action Plan. "We are very much urging participating States to study the recommendations of this status report and consider, but preferably also carry out intensified measures. For example, one concrete issue requiring our serious investment is the provision of early education for Roma children," she said.

ODIHR's report on the implementation of the OSCE Action Plan for Roma and Sinti, launched at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw on 2 October 2008. (OSCE/Jens Eschenbaecher)

Status Report accessible here:

Major gaps still divide Roma from mainstream populations across Europe, says OSCE report

Vendredi 3 Octobre 2008

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