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2023 (English)

Once again the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) presents its Annual Report on Discrimination and Roma community. This report is fundamental for our work in the fight against discrimination and antigypsyism, since it allows us to draw attention to specific, documented cases of discrimination which regrettably many Roma people suffer in our country. Attention is given to these cases within the framework of the Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination Support Service, a nationwide and free service under the auspices of the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination (CEDRE), that depends on the General Directorate for Equal Treatment and Ethno-Racial Diversity of the Ministry of Equality. The Service is provided in coordination with seven leading NGOs, with the FSG as the coordinating entity. Attention to these cases is offered by both the specialist team affiliated to the aforementioned programme and the experts in equality from the programme Calí, for the equality of Roma women, funded by the European Social Fund.

As well as relating the cases of antigypsyism and discrimination against the Roma community dealt with in 2022, the actions carried out and the results obtained in each instance, each year this report addresses a particular topic which is analysed in depth. This year the topic is anti-Roma collective persecution, which refers to expulsions of Roma families which occur in some areas when there is a conflict between a Roma person and non-Roma person. This extremely serious phenomenon constitutes one of the most extreme, deep-rooted and historical forms of antigypsyism, and has occurred several times in our country. The latest two known cases were last year, in Peal de Becerro and in Íllora. In both cases, as a result of a conflict, part of the non-Roma population of the towns organised to assault, harass and expel the Roma families, who had to urgently abandon their homes and move to other towns in the area. This phenomenon is similar to the “pogroms” which have occurred in various countries and times against Jews, although fortunately in the anti-Roma cases in Spain there have not been any mortal victims. These acts are hate crimes which constitute a serious violation of human rights, and which have an enormous impact on families, especially on minors, who see their rights abused and are subjected to a serious situation of stress and discrimination.

To analyse this phenomenon, we have invited contributions from different experts with perspectives from different fields: from academia, from the defence of human rights, from the police force and from the international context. We also put forward, based on the experience of our own organisation, a series of recommendations for the different actors involved to improve the response to this type of cases. It seems unacceptable to us in this day and age that these collective punishments against Roma families continue to occur, in which there is an unjust attempt to shift the blame for the acts of an isolated individual onto the whole community, sometimes putting at risk their lives, and the integrity of their property and housing. These are acts of harassment and violence, with attempts to burn housing and belongings, anti-Roma graffiti, and insults and threats, in which all Roma people pay for the actions of a single person. It goes against the rule of law for one part of the citizenry to take justice into their own hands when the presumed perpetrator of a crime is a Roma person; the legal responsibility is individual, but when it comes to the Roma community it becomes collectivised. This shows once again that antigypsyism is deeply rooted in Spanish society and that we must improve coexistence in communities as well as knowledge of the reality and diversity of the Roma people, the protocols for prevention and the approach of local authorities and police forces.

With regard to cases of discrimination, this year we have taken up and addressed 532 cases, a very similar figure to last year’s. We can observe two trends from this data: on the one hand, acts of discrimination against Roma people continue to occur across all areas of social life: education, employment, health, housing, access to goods and services etc., which constitutes a barrier to the full enjoyment of fundamental rights for these people; on the other hand, we find greater empowerment among the victims of these cases; Roma people are more aware of their right to equality and report these situations with much greater frequency, seeking justice and redress.

In this report we also set forth good practice and jurisprudence. To this end, I would like to refer to the development of the Law of Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination, which was passed last year in our country. This is a much-needed law, whose adoption we encouraged and celebrated, especially for its inclusion of reform to the penal code with respect to antigypsyism. Nevertheless, we want to express our concern because the law stipulates the creation of an independent authority, to be responsible for directing the procedures included in the law, as well as for actions for prevention of and intervention in cases of discrimination. More than a year has passed since the law was passed, but this authority has not yet been created, nor do we have information about its budget or resources. On another note, we are worried that on many occasions the administrations in charge of enforcing this law are not sufficiently trained to apply it, and in many cases are not even aware of its existence. For this reason, we urge the relevant authorities to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the effective application of this law.

I also wish to give due appreciation to the renewal of the Support Service for Victims from the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination (CEDRE) in 2022, which has been greatly strengthened in terms of human and financial resources, with increases in its operating hours, its offices and its specialist staff. Another very important landmark in bringing this service closer to the victims has been the activation of a free hotline, 021, which is facilitating the reporting of cases of discrimination. We value this initiative by the Ministry for Equality, and also the commitment by the authorities to a topic as important as the fight against discrimination and victim support.

We must not pass by a dramatic event which began in 2022 and which is also affecting the Roma people. I am referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the war which has broken out in the country. This war has meant that many people, including some Ukrainian Roma, have had to emigrate to other countries. Unfortunately, cases have come to light in which the welcome that Roma refugees have received in other countries has been discriminatory, in that they have not received the same support as their non- Roma compatriots.

We would like to highlight the role that our Experts in Equality, in the vast majority Roma women from our Calí, for the Equality of Roma women programme, have been playing throughout Spain. The incorporation of this professional profile has represented an improvement not only in the support given to the victims of discrimination and antigypsyism but also in the knowledge that Roma people have of their rights when faced with discrimination.

This year we have continued to count on strategic litigation as a methodology to achieve favourable legal rulings for victims of discrimination and antigypsyism; to improve the response of the courts and their jurisprudence in these cases; and to sensitise all authorities and society as a whole to the human impact of discrimination and the importance of taking measures to tackle it. In this regard, I would like to highlight two very important legal decisions which have been handed down in 2022: the sentence in a case of neighbourhood anti-Roma harassment in Burgos, and the court-based settlement which led to a company compensating a young Roma woman and recognising a dismissal as null due to discrimination. All our strategic litigation cases are presented here in a dedicated chapter.

To finish, I would like to thank the institutions which have supported us in the production of this report. In this regard, we thank both the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, for financial support in the publication and distribution of this report, and the Ministry of Equality and the Council for the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, since the cases that we address and present in this report are handled within the framework of its specialised victims support service. We also thank all the professionals from different fields who accompany the victims of discrimination throughout the process.

And of course, as always, our greatest thanks go to each and every one of the victims of discrimination and antigypsyism, for the trust they place in the FSG and for their courage when it comes to reporting their cases.

Sara Giménez
President of Fundación Secretariado Gitano.