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Bias against Roma and Sinti

OSCE participating States recognized the danger of ethnic hatred targeting Roma and Sinti as early as 1990. Anti-Roma rhetoric, including that focusing on "Gypsy criminality", can be perpetuated in the media and by political actors. EU enlargement, coupled with Roma marginalization, have led many Roma individuals and families to seek better conditions and opportunities elsewhere through migration, often encountering negative reactions in destination countries or areas. Successive ODIHR annual hate crime reports have presented a range of hate crimes targeting Roma. Assault, property damage and murder, involving the use of explosives, firearms or Molotov cocktails have featured in these reports. Among the particularly worrying incidents reported to ODIHR have been arson attacks against Roma homes.

More recently, Ministerial Council decisions in Maastricht (2003), Athens (2009) and Kiev (2013), as well as the Astana declaration (2010) have reconfirmed the need to combat violence against Roma and Sinti and urged participating States to step up their efforts in this regard.

A number of factors suggest that the reported data provide only a fragment of the overall picture of hate crimes against Roma and Sinti. While some participating States record anti-Roma hate crimes, these may not be disaggregated in their statistics and, instead, be included under the heading of racist and xenophobic hate crimes. In addition excessive force against or ill-treatment of Roma, including, for example, in the course of evictions or during stop-and-search actions by the police, can contribute to a lack of trust in the authorities. This, combined with a lack of means and knowledge on the part of Roma communities to monitor and report hate crimes means that these are likely significantly under-reported.



States that report


Overview of incidents reported by civil society

Attacks Against People Attacks Against Property Total
Violent Attacks Threats
27 18 18 63


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported the kidnapping of a Roma woman, who was driven by two men pretending to be police to a nearby forest where they threatened the victim and stole her belongings, and one incident in which the possessions of two homeless Roma were set on fire.


The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee reported a physical assault on a Roma child, who was shot in the chest by an air gun; one incident of threats against local Roma people via social media; and one robbery carried out by a group.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Human Rights First reported a physical assault on a Roma man and his two sons.


Official figures recorded one threat motivated by bias against Roma.

Czech Republic

Official figures recorded 22 hate crimes motivated by bias against Roma. These included one physical assault, one case of damage to property, 12 cases of threats, one case of disturbance of the peace and six cases of incitement to violence.

In IUSTITIA reported 12 physical assaults, 13 threats, two incidents of damage to property and three incidents involving graffiti.


The coalition of civil society groups Hate Crime Counselling Projects reported 32 anti-Roma incidents, which included physical assaults, harassment, threats and damage to property.


The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) and the Greek Helsinki Monitor reported an incident in which a teenage Roma boy was attacked and injured by a group of older students.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Centre for Democracy Development reported a physical assault on a Roma family that involved the use of a knife. The European Centre for Democracy Development and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union reported an incident of threats.


Lunaria and the Association 21 July reported the murder of a Roma man when shots were fired at a caravan and one incident in which a compressor gun was fired in the direction of a Roma camp, injuring one resident.

The Association 21 July also reported two incidents in which shots were fired at Roma camps, one of which also involved an arson attack; five arson attacks targeting Roma neighborhoods or caravans; one incident of vandalism and two threats. Lunaria further reported one physical assault and one incident of vandalism.


The Ministry of the Interior recorded 26 hate crimes motivated by bias against Roma and Sinti.

The Never Again Association reported four physical assaults, one of which was carried out by a group and one involving a knife.


The Regional Centre for Minorities (RCM) reported an incident involving two clashing groups; one incident of anti-Roma graffiti on a building; and damage to a car owned by a Roma family, committed by a person who had threatened the same family.


Official figures recorded 144 crimes motivated by bias against Roma and Sinti, including 40 physical assaults, 12 cases of vandalism or damage to property and 92 cases of threats.


The Consultation Network for the Victims of Racism reported one threat targeting two Roma people.


Official figures recorded three crimes motivated by bias against Roma and Sinti.

The Diversity Initiative, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported two incidents of vandalism. The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU) reported one attempted arson attack and one incident of vandalism.

OSCE Region

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMiK) reported two physical assaults, including one stabbing; an arson attack on an Ashkali woman’s house; and one incident of vandalism against a private residence.



In its "Concluding observations on the third periodic report of Croatia", the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) called for strengthened efforts to combat racist attacks committed by law enforcement personnel, including against Roma people, by providing training and ensuring that hate crimes are properly investigated and prosecuted. The HRC highlighted the need to counter hate crimes against LGBT people, by ensuring that they are thoroughly investigated and offenders are prosecuted and sanctioned.

Czech Republic

In its "Concluding observations on the combined tenth and eleventh periodic reports of the Czech Republic", the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) emphasized the importance of effectively investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. CERD also expressed its concern about continued racially motivated violence against Roma people and on the increase in racially-motivated violence against Muslim communities.


In its fifth report on France, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended amendments to the Criminal Code to include racist, homophobic and transphobic motivations as aggravating circumstances in criminal offences. ECRI also recommended that the authorities establish partnerships with civil society organizations working with Roma communities and people with disabilities to overcome under-reporting and to ensure that hate crime data-collection systems allow the disaggregation of data and the tracking of cases through the criminal justice system.


The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, in the annual activity report following his country visit to Slovakia, recommended including gender identity as a protected characteristic in the criminal code. The Commissioner also expressed concern at the manifestations of intolerance against Roma and Sinti people, and called on the authorities to improve the registration of hate crimes, including through the training of police.


The Commission against Antiziganism published the report "Taking Action Against Antiziganistic Hate Crimes," which contains ODIHR’s observations regarding hate crimes against Roma and Sinti People and recommended measures that were mainly aimed at law enforcement personnel.


In its "Concluding observations on the combined fourth to sixth periodic reports of Turkey", the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) recommended that racist motivation should be included as an aggravating circumstance in penal legislation. CERD expressed its concern at reports of hate crimes, including against Roma people, and recommended that all hate crime cases be effectively investigated and prosecuted, that law enforcement officials be trained, and that disaggregated statistics on hate crimes be collected and published.

OSCE Region

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a number of resolutions on hate crime issues, including Resolution 2069 on recognizing and preventing neo-racism, which recommends that hate crime legislation include the protected characteristics of race, colour, ethnicity, language, religion, disability, migrant status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. PACE also recognized the issue of under-reporting by calling for more systematic reporting of hate crimes.

In her "Comprehensive study of the human rights situation of Roma worldwide", the United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues called for the effective and prompt investigation of hate crimes against Roma individuals and communities, covering cases of unlawful use of force by law enforcement personnel. The Special Rapporteur also recommended that detailed data on hate crimes against Roma be collected and published.