Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Racism, discrimination of minorities widespread in Europe, especially the Czech Republic

Last week, a report based on yet the most comprehensive survey of ethnic minorities living in Europe conducted concluded that "the majority experience racism and discrimination on a day-to-day basis," with the Roma and Africans at the highest risk. In fact, "around 90 percent of North Africans in Italy and France reported discrimination, while around 85 percent of Roma living in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Greece said they had been treated with prejudice because of their ethnicity." As a group, the Roma reported the highest overall levels of being discriminated against of all groups surveyed.

The Czech Republic "leads" the pack with the highest percentage in all of Europe of Roma reporting discrimination. About 83 percent of Czech Romanies, of whom there are estimated to be 250,000 in the country of just over 10 million, believe that discrimination is rife in the Czech Republic.

The report by the EU’s agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found that "minorities reported racially-motivated obstacles when looking for work or a home to rent or buy, when trying to open a bank account or get a loan, when dealing with healthcare, social services or school officials. They also experienced discrimination when entering cafes, restaurants and shops."

One of the key findings was that racist crime, harassment and discrimination are grossly underreported. As a matter of fact, 80 percent of the minority respondents stated that they did not go to the authorities about the racist crimes they or ethnically inspired bias they witnessed or experienced, reflecting the belief that little could be done to tackle the problem.

FRA concludes that "the results suggest a sense of resignation among ethnic minorities and immigrants who lack confidence in the mechanisms designed to protect victims of discrimination or racist crime. The main reason given for not reporting incidents was that respondents felt that nothing would happen following their complaint."

Additionally, "80% of the respondents did not know of any organisation that could offer support or advice to victims of discrimination." The survey thus "demonstrates an urgent need for better information, but could also reflect a real absence of effective support services in many Member States," states the FRA report.

The main purpose of the report was to provide statistical evidence in order to support anti-discriminatory policy-making across the EU.

Incidentally, the Czech Republic, which got the worst grade regarding racism and discrimination experienced by the Roma of all of Europe, is the only EU27 Bloc member state without anti-discriminatory legislation in place, for which the EU court has reprimanded the country. Shame on Czech politicians!

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