[JURIST] Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis [official profile] on Tuesday called [statement text; AKI report] on officials to end discrimination against Europe's Roma minority [JURIST news archive]. Davis' comments came in response to a Monday confrontation [BBC report] between Czech police and far-right protesters attempting to attack a Roma suburb near the town of Litvinov. The head of the European human rights organization said:
I congratulate the Czech authorities on their determination in stopping the violence and also express my solidarity with the policemen who were wounded by the mob. At the same time we must recognise that this incident took place against the background of increasing intolerance and violence against Roma people in Europe. All Governments across Europe also need to look urgently at the situation of the Roma communities in their countries and act decisively to protect them against discrimination, intolerance and violence. [sic]Davis noted that last week marked the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht [PBS backgrounder], during which German Jews' homes and businesses were attacked on the night of November 9, 1938.
The Czech incident comes amid increasing anti-Roma sentiment in Europe. In August, a UN committee urged Russia to comply [JURIST report] with anti-discrimination conventions with respect to attacks on members of minority groups, including the Roma. In early July, the Italian government began recording the fingerprints [JURIST report] of thousands of Roma, including children, ostensibly to reduce street crime and begging. Later that month, the European Parliament [official website] called on EU member states to repeal all anti-Roma laws and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights urged Italy to change its "severe" policies [JURIST reports] on Roma people. Italy's Interior Ministry responded by announcing [JURIST report] that the government would revise plans to fingerprint the Roma, altering requirements to only include those who do not have valid identification cards. The decision was seen as a concession to intense criticism [JURIST report] of the fingerprinting plan by the international human rights community [COE statement] and Roma advocates [ERRC materials].