UN rights office urges end to Roma discrimination in Bulgaria

UN rights office urges end to Roma discrimination in Bulgaria

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[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Tuesday called on authorities to end the hate speech and discrimination [press release] against the Roma migrants [JURIST news archive] in Bulgaria. The UN human rights office expressed deep concern [UN News Centre report] over the violence and discrimination accompanying the anti-Roma demonstrations. The demonstrations began when a Bulgarian youth was run over and killed by a van belonging to the local Roma. The OHCHR said that they hope to bring the individual responsible for the Bulgarian youth’s death to justice. Further adding that it is unfair to blame an entire population for the actions of an individual. Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the OHCHR, said:

The hate speech that has been fuelling [sic] the anti-Roma protests in Bulgaria is of great concern. It is unacceptable for an entire community to be targeted for an offence allegedly committed by an individual. We call on Bulgarian authorities at the highest political level to publicly restate this principle of individual criminal responsibility. The political leadership must take a strong stance against hate speech and ensure that police officers continue to be deployed in sufficient numbers to protect Roma neighbourhoods from threats of retribution and harassment.

The OHCHR encouraged countries in Europe and the EU to adopt policies to end discrimination against the Roma communities.

The Roma population has faced discrimination [JURIST comment] in various European countries. In April, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Serbian authorities to halt the forced evictions [JURIST report] of Roma in Belgrade and provide them with adequate housing and compensation. In March, AI released a report [JURIST report] documenting discrimination and human rights violations against Roma migrants in Slovenia and urging the Slovenian government to protect Roma communities. The report revealed that Roma communities are being denied access to housing, water and sanitation. Much of the Roma population is living in overcrowded shacks without access to adequate health care services, schools, shops and employment.