ITF Statement concerning Hate Crimes and Discrimination targeting Roma in Europe

The ITF looks to support projects which focus on the inclusion of the history of the Roma genocide within the context of the Holocaust and combat anti-Roma sentiments in contemporary society.

The following statement was endorsed by the 27 member States of the ITF at the Plenary session in Trondheim, Norway, on 3 December 2009.

The Roma were subject to persecution and genocide under Nazi-rule. The Roma in Europe still suffer from the repercussion of the destruction of their communities. It is very disturbing that in several European countries the situation of Roma has deteriorated seriously during 2009. Hate crimes have led to deaths and Roma are confronted with discrimination on an alarming scale. There is an urgent need for governments and civil society to respond to the prejudices, discrimination and violence that Roma experience and that threaten democratic society, and to support initiatives that work toward combating these developments.1 The ITF seeks to cooperate with other international organisations (OSCE/ODHIR, Council of Europe, FRA among others) that are responding to this situation.

Building on the past activities of the EWG, the ITF calls on all its member states to address the situation in the field of education.2 The Stockholm Declaration on the Holocaust acknowledges all the victims of the Nazis and the indelible scar that their suffering has left across Europe. It is essential that educational institutions take on the responsibility to include teaching about the Roma genocide within the framework of Holocaust education. In most countries the majority of the teachers are not equipped and materials are not available to teach this history. Focussing on the Roma genocide would give historical insight into the danger of not responding to hate and discrimination. Teachers are often not able to respond adequately to anti-Roma sentiments that they meet within their schools.3

We call for all ITF countries to take the initiative to bring together leading institutions in the educational field, experts in combating prejudices and Roma educators, in order to develop educational tools to address the topics mentioned above and to work toward implementation at all levels of education. There is a specific urgency for such meetings in countries with large Roma communities.

The ITF looks to support projects, within its programs, which focus on the inclusion of the history of the Roma genocide within the context of the Holocaust, as well as educational strategies that combine learning about the past with combating anti-Roma sentiments in society today. Wherever possible the ITF will help further the international exchange of best practices in this field. Each member of the ITF pledges to report on the way in which their government is addressing the situation in the educational field.

1. EU-MIDI European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, 22-04-09 ( See also: Statement by Andrzej Mirga, the head of the OSCE Contact Point for Roma, 9 June 2009, on the recent wave of violence against Roma and Sinti. The Statement makes clear that governments cannot afford to neglect the integration of Europe’s largest minority population.

2. The ITF has held two seminars for experts, the first in 2007 (in Brno, Czech Republic, in cooperation with the Museum of Romani Culture) and the second in 2008 (in Linz, Austria, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education of Austria) as well as cooperated with the Council of Europe and the Hungary Ministry of Education in the teacher training seminar held in Budapest in 2008.

3. The cooperation with the Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR has been specifically crucial on this issue. The CoE has sent a questionnaire to 49 member states on the history of the Roma and the Roma genocide in the national curriculum. The CoE and OSCE jointly have developed a website on the history of the Roma and the Roma Genocide.