Another year running the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) presents its Report on Discrimination and the Roma Community, whose main objective is to continue to call attention to, raise awareness and report cases of discrimination and anti-Gypsyism faced by the Roma community, targeting the administration, key stakeholders and the society in general, to jointly seek a solution to this serious social problem and build a more cohesive and just society. Along with that effort, through this publication we give voice to the victims of discrimination who. as we know all too well, are hidden and numbed by misinformation, fear and mistrust.
One of the FSG’s priorities for more than 10 years now has been to promote equality and combat ethnic discrimination as the latter is a violation of a fundamental right and constitutes an offence against the existing regulatory framework in this area (Articles 1 and 14 of the Spanish Constitution and Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC) and is an affront to personal dignity. We believe that, together with employment and education, combating anti-Gypsyism is a fundamental pillar to achieving Roma inclusion. Therefore, in 2015, the FSG created the “Department of Equality and Anti-discrimination” to bolster work in this area through:
- Information, assistance and support activities targeting victims of racial or ethnic discrimination, as the coordinating body of the Network of Assistance Centres for Victims of Discrimination, part of the Equal Treatment Council;
- 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 antidiscrimination legislation and its everyday enforcement;
- 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 awarenessraising campaigns;
- Strategic litigation, i.e. defence of equal treatment before the courts and direct coordination with the hate crime and discrimination prosecution offices;
- Actions to promote equal treatment and opportunities for Roma women.
The main section of this report is devoted to shedding light on the everyday discrimination still faced today by the Roma community in Spain; 194 cases of discrimination having been identified in 2014. These cases bear witness to the ongoing problems that Roma families have to face year after year when going for a job interview, doing an internship in a company, renting a flat, trying to enter a discotheque... and the unfair treatment they receive from some professional sectors due to their ethnicity. Along with this, some alarming events occurred in two towns in the south of Spain, Castellar and Estepa, where manifestations of rejection were taken to the extreme; events that could constitute hate crime against the Roma Community. We would note that in the defence of the Castellar case, the unjust ruling handed down by the Provincial Court of Jaen highlights the need for greater involvement of the judicial sector in this area.
The cases registered are presented by area with disaggregated data so as to provide the greatest degree of information, including a description of some of the work strategies developed. Along with that, we present the general proposals that we consider appropriate to more effectively defend victims of these regrettable acts of discrimination and the main conclusions gleaned from the work undertaken.
The report goes on to cite the important legislative advances and positive case law during 2014-2015 at European and national level: the legal proceedings in the Czech Republic and Slovakia regarding school segregation, European judgments with an impact on anti-Gypsyism, an assessment of the current reform of the Spanish criminal code, observations made with respect to Roma women by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the new protocol on hate crimes created by the Ministry of the Interior.
Lastly, we report on the advances made in the field of social awareness during this same period: literature produced by the Women’s Institute and Equal Opportunities (Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality— MSSSI) such as the “Practical Guide: how to deal with cases of discrimination, hate crimes and intolerance” and the manual entitled “Embracing diversity: proposals for education free of homophobic and transphobic harassment” and other campaigns and awareness-raising materials published by ACCEM, FELGTB, the RAIS Foundation and the FSG.
We are still in the midst of a complicated socioeconomic situation in which the most disadvantaged groups, including the Roma community, must also have the opportunity to emerge from the economic crisis. Therefore, government measures must reach all population groups. It is essential to recognise that discrimination and social rejection, particularly affecting Roma, are an added barrier standing in the way to a life with dignity.
The social rejection of the Roma community is a constant, it is always present and manifests itself in different ways; in some cases it is denying people’s rights, in others it is racist demonstrations and publications, and in still others it crosses the line and takes the form of hate crime. In light of this, it is vital for the state to take a firm and decisive stance as this is a violation of the right to equality—an essential element of our democratic state. Laws and those who make and enforce them need to react to these violations, but this is where we find an alarming deficit. Moreover, society has to think long and hard because if we intend to build a cohesive society we need to put an end to discrimination. I find it surprising that some television programmes have used Roma to produce a pitiful and humiliating spectacle where prejudice and a damaging portrayal of all Roma, especially Roma women, prevails.
Not only that; we must not forget that we are still witnessing acts of discrimination and hatred against Roma people across Europe. Unfortunately, 2014 was no exception to this rule. There have been many cases of anti-Gypsyism throughout Europe: forced evictions, physical violence, discriminatory policing, school segregation, etc. In some of these cases, the response of the courts was positive as demonstrated by the case law analysed in this report.
Despite these difficult times, important progress has been made at national and European level, including the reform of the Spanish criminal code, the work carried out by several organisations such as the Platform for the Policing of Diversity, the Network of Assistance Centres for Victims of racial or ethnic Discrimination of the Council for the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, police protocols to address hate crime and discrimination, hate crime and discrimination services at provincial prosecutors’ offices, training initiatives on this topic in the legal sector (General Council of the Judiciary, prosecutor’s office, etc.), the activity of various social organisations, and the work done by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Council of Europe, etc.
As we can see, there are many people involved in this effort making coordination and teamwork essential if we are to effectively respond to discrimination, a social problem that affects everyone.
Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to all of the individuals and institutions who have collaborated in compiling this Report. First to the workers of the FSG who, through 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.
Second, 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.
Lastly, we would like to thank all the victims of ethnic discrimination that have had the courage to come forward and report these situations to the FSG, an organisation that will continue to work forcefully to combat discrimination.
Sara Giménez Giménez
Director of the Department of Equality and Anti-Discrimination