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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. ODIHR's annual reporting on hate crime has 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.
In its fifth report on Croatia, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) observed that many cases of hate crime, especially those targeting Serbs, LGBT people and Roma, are only classified as misdemeanours. ECRI recommended that the bias motive be incorporated from the very beginning in investigations and training for police officers and judicial officials.
In its "Concluding observations on the combined fourth to sixth periodic reports of Montenegro", the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concern at violence against Roma people and at the absence of updated and comprehensive disaggregated data on hate crimes. The Committee recommended that the authorities firmly counter acts of racist violence against any ethnic group, in particular Roma, and punish perpetrators with sanctions commensurate to their acts.