Volume 10 (2004) / Issue 1
This article seeks to provide some insight into the multiple human rights challenges facing the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Under Communism, the bulk of the Roma benefited from wide-ranging social and economic rights introduced in the CEE states including rights to work, housing, healthcare and education. Paradoxically, the transition to democracy, economic liberty and a new emphasis on civil and political rights has precipitated a massive crisis for the region’s Roma. Subject to spiralling unemployment and sharply escalating living costs, most Roma have not been able to take advantage of the political, cultural or economic opportunities now available to them. Similarly, the recognition of minority rights in both regional instruments and national legislation, particularly since 1990, has had relatively little impact on the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe. Against a background of heightened racial animosity and persistent assaults on Roma victims, many Roma are afraid to assert their identity. For the mass of impoverished Roma, notions of minority rights are irrelevant. Finally, the article explores the failure of criminal justice systems in Central and Eastern Europe to respond to widespread physical intimidation directed against Roma subjects.
All rights reserved