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

On the 72nd anniversary of the Roma Holocaust -'Porrajmos' or 'Pharrajimos' - two United Nations human rights experts urged 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 Izsak-Ndiaye, and the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, called 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."