Roma risk being 'scapegoats' in hard times: rights groups
According to a EU survey, about 50 percent of Roma, or gypsies, said they had suffered discrimination at least once in the past year, with repeated incidents seen in recent months in Hungary and Italy.
Vienna -- Roma risk becoming scapegoats as Europe goes through recession, four organisations that address human rights issues said Tuesday on the eve of International Roma Day.
"Our organisations are deeply concerned by the continuing discriminatory treatment and exclusion of the Roma," said the OSCE offices for minorities and human rights, the European Commission on Human Rights and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in a joint statement.
"In times of economic crisis, communities such as the Roma, along with migrants and other vulnerable groups, tend to become easy 'scapegoats' for extremist movements and populist politicians," they said.
There has been an "escalation" in hate-motivated incidents and racist rhetoric reported in a number of states, and thus "political leaders need to unequivocally and publicly condemn any form of violence targeting Roma."
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights is to publish a report on Roma discrimination in the 27-nation European Union on April 22.
According to an EU survey, about 50 percent of Roma, or gypsies, said they had suffered discrimination at least once in the past year, with repeated incidents seen in recent months in Hungary and Italy.