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Government urges commission on Roma

TT/The Local · 30 Jul 2010, 14:53

Published: 30 Jul 2010 14:53 GMT+02:00

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The Discrimination Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO) has called on setting up a truth commission to promote awareness among the Roma of their rights, create a youth leadership academy and establish a Roma cultural committee.

"We should be ashamed of how we have dealt with the Roma and once we have begun to be ashamed, maybe we can change our behaviour," said former Liberal Party leader and ambassador Maria Leissner. "This is an exclusion that is totally unacceptable to Sweden in 2010."

The Roma are one of Sweden's five national minorities and Romani Chib is one of Sweden's national minority languages. The number of Roma living in Sweden is estimated at 40,000 to 50,000.

The delegation notes that an extreme and indefensible exclusion of Roma prevails across all parts of society. The Roma's situation is both humanly and economically unsustainable, the delegation led by Leissner charged. According to Leissner, the Roma in Sweden live in isolation with up to 80 percent unemployment.

"A welfare gap exists in Sweden," she said. "Many Roma lack education, are shut out of the labour market and the children do not get enough support at school. Few Roma children and young people receive secondary school qualifications and go on to college or university."

Leissner added that the Roma find themselves in a disadvantaged position of power and there is a large credibility gap, with mistrust and a lack of confidence between the Roma and the majority of society.

"There is also an anti-Gypsyism, a racism particularly directed against Roma from individuals, institutions and structurally in society," said Leissner.

According to the delegation, the cost of Roma exclusion, in the form of tax revenue losses and additional expenditures amounts to 12.4 billion kronor ($1.71 billion) per year. The delegation proposes measures and investments over 20 years to improve the Roma's situation that would cost 80 million to 100 million kronor a year.

Integration Minister Sabuni believes that the Roma as a minority group are more vulnerable than other groups in Swedish society are exposed to discrimination even though it is prohibited by the law.

"The Roma are the only group in society where people can express discriminatory things against them without other people reacting," she said.

Sabuni and EU Affairs Minister Birgitta Ohlsson sent a letter on Friday to the European Commission to call attention to the responsibility of all EU member states for the situation of the Roma.

Story continues below…

"The commission must take the initiative for an action plan that is binding for member states under which they must write specifically how they will ensure Roma access to employment, housing and the job market," said Sabuni.

"My concern is that a part of the EU member states treats its Roma citizens so badly that they are forced to leave their home countries and travel to other EU countries," she added.

Many Roma encounter great difficulties in virtually all spheres of society. This applies to education, the labour market, housing and health care and to the possibility of participating in the community on the same terms as the majority population.

The number of Roma living in Sweden is estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 people. The population in Sweden is not homogenous and includes descendants of the Romani groups that arrived in Sweden in the 16th century as well as those who came to Sweden at the end of the 20th century.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:01 July 30, 2010 by asteriks
Whole my life I read articles like this, in many countries, and still situation is not changed for Roma. I don't believe in true intentions of government, they just make projects to take money from budget. For Roma, for homeless, for this, for that, and nothing is changed. Change one simple thing and you solve the main problem: don't push people to have address in order to get social help from the state, and you will not have homeless anymore on the street, even if they are Roma or drug addicts, they can get home instead of money (refugees in Germany get home plus packages with food, they get only 40 euro per month in cash, of course, instead of packages with food, it is better to give them some kind of tickets with which they could buy food). BUT no, they need to take money from budget, billions, and they don't want really to solve problem.
16:05 July 30, 2010 by Twiceshy
16:06 July 30, 2010 by asteriks
One more thing, I think Roma are more discriminated on materialist basis and very rarely on the basis of color of skin. Materialist mentality is result of capitalist ideology and it can not be solved so fast and easy, the only solution is that Roma get normal economic side of life and in that way discrimination will not exist anymore. I know Roma who had middle class life in my country when I was young, they were never discriminated. Only very poor Roma are discriminated.
18:26 July 30, 2010 by here for the summer
asteriks so capitalist idealogy is the basis of poverty ? Maybe it is the other way around . lack of capitalist idealogy is the source of poverty .
18:32 July 30, 2010 by Audrian
However civilized Europe calls itself, the actions of majority of Europeans and governments show the opposite. Germany exterminated six million Jews and the whole Europe condemned it because Germany lost WWII. Germany people are not different other Europeans.

The worst abusers of Roma people are East European countries and Italy. Just recently a group of Italians poured hot water on Roma child to scare Roma people and drive them from the neighborhood. The Roma people in theat area were those chased out by East European vigilanties and government supporters.
19:28 July 30, 2010 by janswed
accept the fact that romas are here on the planet like the rest of us , some effort of intregation of the young in to regular society away from thievery and such benavour would go a long way to change the culture of exclusion that now exist if any country could do it sweden could i have great confidence with my fellow swedes and our humanity.
20:38 July 30, 2010 by here for the summer
@Janswed How many roma are there in Europe? They need to be integrated and treated better where they now. Unless you are suggesting that all the Roma in Europe be imported to Sweden to be taught not to steal ? I think Sweden at this time has enough recent immigrants who are not integrated.

50 years ago Sweden was able to integrate a great number of people. They are not doing a very good job of it now .
22:15 July 30, 2010 by Twiceshy
They can not be integrated if they don't want to be integrated.

In my experience, Gypsy people don't want to be integrated into the rest of society.
23:24 July 30, 2010 by Kaethar
@Twiceshy: That is a common stereotype, yes... doesn't exactly help the gypsies who DO want to be integrated. :/

Here's an example of two who do and how efforts to help them actually have made a difference:


(in Swedish)

10:27 July 31, 2010 by Mucker

Good points about how Roma are mistreated today.

But how can you mention the Holocaust and not point out that the Romani suffered?

Did you know that up to half a million Romani were exterminated by the Nazis? The evil Joseph Mengele took a particular interest in killing and torturing gypsies.

The Roma have been treated terribly in Europe.
13:22 July 31, 2010 by svenskdod
This is an issue that has been haunting governments since the beginning of government. The whole idea of government is based around stability and routine like activities. This isn't even a part of the Gypsy culture. They are taught to be distrustful of people outside their circle and in my mind that in itself is discrimination, it is a two way experience.

When talking about the Gypsies with Swedish friend who have had experiences with them, the experiences are never welcome or pleasant ones.

I am reminded of a MacGyver episode where a gypsy girl tried to steal an old watch from him but got caught. Then she turned around and asked him why everyone hates them. He said he didn't know, but he should have said, "because you thieve everywhere you go."

So my question is this. WHY are they discriminated against, and is it really just the ethnic Swedes fault? It seems to me that whenever there is a problem with a minority in this country is is always blamed on the majority for their plight.
21:06 July 31, 2010 by double concerto
The loony libs have to make a song and dance as usual. It's quite simple really, it's not "racism" or "discrimination" it's just locking the door to keep thieves out.
07:09 August 1, 2010 by wenddiver
When I was a boy my Grandmother always told us stories about how terrified she was as a little girl in Germany and Russia of Gypsys and wolves. This article is so unussual, it's like reading about a troll infestation or witches. Really, somthing right out of a children's book.
12:17 August 2, 2010 by Dave N
The Roma live solely by theft, claiming benefits and begging. Their children are organised into gangs who are trained to steal. This cannot be denied because it is quite blatantly happening right under our noses in every major city in Western Europe. This Maria Leissner is typical of the appeasing liberals who unfortunately infest the ruling classes of all Western nations. To them, it's always our (white peoples') fault when minorities fail to fit in and always us who should change our ways to accomodate the invaders. Why do soppy liberals like Maria hate their own people so much? It beats me!
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