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2013 (inglés)

Another year has passed and the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) presents its IX Report on Discrimination and the Roma Community, the main objective of which is to shed light on and report discrimination which, unfortunately, the Roma community continues to suffer. We believe it is extremely important for the government and the society at large to be aware of the recorded cases of discrimination and thus have an idea of the everyday reality that Roma families face in gaining access to housing, employment, education and services simply because of their ethnic background.

The social rejection of the Roma community is caused by a negative social image, i.e. prejudice and stereotypes spread by some media as evidenced by the television programme called “Palabra de Gitano” (Roma Word of Honour) which has done immeasurable damage to the advancement and social inclusion of this ethnic minority.

Once again this year we want to give the victims of discrimination a voice and let people know that they need to be effectively defended and supported, especially in these times of economic crisis when inequality is ravaging the most vulnerable, among which we find the Roma community.

We believe it vital that our country continues to be known for being inclusive and to that end actions and measures must be implemented to guarantee equal treatment and opportunities for all. Enforcement of applicable legislation remains the pending challenge when it comes to defending non-discrimination so that victims do not feel helpless, unprotected and with no compensation when they are denied access to employment, are unable to rent a home or are not allowed to enter a swimming pool or a cafeteria simply because they are Roma.

The situation of Roma people in Europe today deserves special attention. We are witnessing unjust acts of rejection and, in some cases, even racial or ethnic hatred (Romaphobia) in several European countries: mass expulsions, segregated schools, violent attacks, forced evictions, etc. Now is the time to put an end to the violation of the fundamental human rights of Roma families. As European states we should work in partnership with initiative and determination and not allow the rights of European citizens living in poverty to be trampled.

In this connection, one of the FSG’s priorities is to promote equal treatment and combat ethnic discrimination. The FSG’s Area of Equality has been working along these lines for over 10 years and continues implementing different initiatives to address the issue of discrimination against the Roma community:

  • Assistance to victims of discrimination is an activity that has been bolstered as of March 2013 when the FSG was named coordinator of the service providing assistance to victims of discrimination of the Council for the advancement of equal treatment and non-discrimination of persons for reasons of racial or ethnic origin, networking with 6 other social entities.
  • Technical assistance and training of key players in the fight against discrimination: mostly technical personnel and the heads of administrations and social organisations, jurists, police and the media.
  • Promotion of policies supporting the advancement of equal treatment by monitoring anti-discrimination legislation, its everyday enforcement and European recommendations in this regard.
  • Social awareness-raising actions through the dissemination of information related with the fight against ethnic discrimination and the promotion of equal treatment and different social awareness-raising campaigns.
  • Strategic litigation, i.e. legal defence of equal treatment before the courts. We would note that in 2012-2013 the FSG’s strategic legal action included the defence of a Romanian Roma woman who was treated unfairly by the police.

The main part of this report focuses on making the everyday discrimination that Spain’s Roma community continues to suffer more visible. 129 cases of discrimination were identified in 2012, a sample that opens our eyes to the injustice of the social rejection suffered by this group of the population and points to the need for some key groups of professionals to improve their performance when dealing with this ethnic minority. The cases registered are presented by areas with disaggregated data so as to provide the greatest degree of information, including a description of some of the work strategies developed. Also, we have drafted the conclusions we reached from our work assisting victims of discrimination and have made proposals to achieve greater effectiveness in the defence of people who fall victim to the regrettable act of discrimination.

Following that, we analyse a particular context of discrimination, police work, specifically police ID checks using ethnic profiling, along with the conclusions of the work done by the FSG in the framework of a European project in which various police services participated. We believe that these articles address a key issue in terms of moving forward in the exercise of the right to equality of racial and ethnic minorities.

The report again focuses on the significant progress made in 2012-2013 at European and national level: FRA publications, communication from the European Commission on the implementation of national Roma inclusion strategies, the startup of the Assistance Service for Victims of Discrimination of the Council for the Advancement of Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin and other particularly relevant issues in the sphere of Equality.

Lastly, we’ve included positive actions that have taken place during the same period: the work done by the Platform for the Policing of Diversity and the social awareness campaigns addressing non-discrimination and racial or ethnic hatred and we look into the impact that the crisis has had on the Roma community, actions that we believe may be of interest to all key stakeholders in the fight against discrimination.

Despite the difficult circumstances, important progress has been made at national and European level, including the draft criminal code reform, the work done by various organisations such as the Platform for the Policing of Diversity, the Council for the Advancement of Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination of persons for reasons of racial or ethnic origin, the action unit of the Assistance Service for Victims of Discrimination, the appointment of a public prosecutor in every province to pursue hate crimes and discrimination, the work done in Europe by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the Council of Europe’s Dosta! campaign, the European Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC), etc. In this regard, we would note that the FSG is also involved in advocacy work and in reporting cases of anti-Gypsyism and Romaphobia in Europe through its active participation in the above fora.

We therefore believe that in these difficult economic times our country is undergoing which especially affect the most vulnerable population groups, all of the professional sectors involved need to put a great priority on partnering so as to guarantee citizens the exercise of fundamental rights such as Equality.

Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to all of the individuals and institutions who have collaborated in compiling this Report. Firstly to the workers of the FSG who, from their different work centres, were involved in the collection of and follow-up on the different cases and provided support to the victims of discrimination.

Secondly, to the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality which once again has provided the FSG with economic support for the actions we carry out in the promotion of equal treatment of the Roma community.

And lastly, we acknowledge the collaboration of José García Añón, José Antonio García Sáez, Andrés Gascón Cuenca, Antoni Llorente Ferreres, Cristina de la Serna, María Serrano, Manuel Pardo, Miguel Ángel Aguilar and the various police forces that participated in the discussion groups, who were instrumental in boosting the defence of equality with their specialised articles and collaboration. Also, a special thanks to all the victims of ethnic discrimination who have put their trust in our Foundation and have come to us for help in defending their rights. All of this is what keeps the FSG working hard so that the Roma Community can experience effective and real equality.

Sara Giménez Giménez
Attorney at Law, Responsible for the Area of Equality. FSG