Header image for news printout

UN experts call on all governments to recognise the right to remembrance for the Roma people

GENEVA / NEW YORK (2 August 2016) – On the 72nd anniversary of the Roma Holocaust –‘Porrajmos’ or ‘Pharrajimos’– two United Nations human rights experts urge all governments around the world to recognise and ensure the right to remembrance for the Roma people.

The UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, and the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, call for stronger measures to stop the stigmatisation of Roma, and that Roma communities and others are able to commemorate the Roma Holocaust in a recognised and dignified manner.

“Under the Nazis, Roma were subjected to arbitrary internment, forced labour, and mass murder. On this Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, we are reminded of the importance to fully embrace the lessons of the past in order to build a future in which such barbarity is no longer possible.

Unfortunately, the hatred, fear, dehumanization and stigmatisation of Roma still exist today in other manifestations. We are saddened to see that targeted violence against Roma individuals and communities and anti-Gypsyism continues in many parts of the world, and call on States to adopt hate crime legislation and to have violence against Roma prosecuted as such when hatred is a motive.

Addressing this stigmatisation and hatred requires both concerted action among different levels of government and special support to efforts by political and social actors at the local level. It also requires initiative and leadership.

In the face of rising political and social extremism, we call upon all political and social actors – including officials at the State, regional and local level – to take action to protect their Roma populations from discrimination and violence based on their identity in order to prevent further human rights violations and violence against members of the Roma community.

In particular, States must establish integration policies, dedicated institutions and allocate budgetary resources to ensure that Roma are considered and treated as equal members in society, and that they can live in security and raise their children without fear.

Much remains to be done to establish the right and possibility for Roma to remember and commemorate this day with dignity. We call on States to identify and preserve Roma graves and mass graves, including those that have not yet been marked, to enable survivors to remember and mourn in dignity.

Governments, and in particular those States where Roma were victims of the Holocaust should also make 2 August an official day of remembrance for the victims of the Pharrajimos.”

Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/SRminorityissuesIndex.aspx

Mr. Adama Dieng was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on 17 July 2012, to act as a catalyst to raise awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide, to alert relevant actors where there is a risk of genocide, and to advocate and mobilize for appropriate action. Learn more, visit: http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

For further information and media inquiries, please contact Jacqui Zalcberg (+41 22 917 9271 / jzalcberg@ohchr.org) or write to minorityissues@ohchr.org

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:
Twitter: @UNHumanRights
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Instagram: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr