Saturday

19th Jan 2019

Opinion

Mums and dads of Roma children deprived parent rights

  • In parts of Hungary 80 percent of the children separated from their parents come from Roma families - although Roma people represent only 20 percent of the population (Photo: Julie70)

It often comes as a shock for most Europeans when we hear about atrocious human rights violations in the world ranging from the imprisonment of women who have had a miscarriage in El Salvador, to the persecution of entire ethnic groups - such as the Rohingyas in Myanmar.

We like to think of ourselves, Europeans, as people showing an example to the rest of the world when it comes to human rights, equality and non-discrimination.

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However, we seem rather willing to accept the apartheid-like situation of our Roma citizens and their systemic - even if sometimes unintentional - neglect and discrimination by our very own politicians and duty-bearers.

It is rather shocking really to see how far our decision-makers and duty bearers can go without being held accountable for their open discrimination and violation of basic human rights.

One of the latest, yet decades-old, Europe-wide, known and blatant example is the removal of Roma children from their parents on the basis of the families' social status and poverty, and due to prejudice towards the Roma.

This practice, which has been reported in several EU member states, is in clear violation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Race Equality Directive, and the founding values of our European Union, yet somehow the placement of Roma children in child protection institutions is portrayed as a 'socially justifiable' measure of states acting 'in the best interest of the child'.

The fate of children in these institutions is also well-known.

A recent BBC film by Stacey Dooley shows how often children in child protection institutions in Hungary end up being victims of sexual violence, prostitution, drug abuse and so on, and this unacceptable practice still goes on.

Hungary is one of those countries, which is well known for state separation of Roma children from their families.

The European Roma Rights Center has been researching the proportion of Roma children in child protection services for decades.

According to their latest findings, in Nograd county of Hungary, 80 percent of the children separated from their parents come from Roma families, although Roma people represent only 20 percent of the population in the county.

That is why the European Roma Rights Center has recently filed a lawsuit against the ministry of human resources of Hungary.

As members of the European Parliament, we are very concerned about this and we want to stop Roma children from being illegally placed in care because of discrimination.

New infringement procedure?

We are asking the European Commission to start an infringement procedure against Hungary, to monitor the situation in all the member states and to prepare a report on the issue.

It is also high time that we, Europeans, stopped turning a blind eye to such horrific acts and asked ourselves how we would survive if our children were taken away from us just because we are poor and are considered to be unfit to take care of our own children.

We do not demand anything more, but also nothing less, for the Roma people than we demand for the majority society.

We want Roma children to be able to enjoy their fundamental rights in the EU and to fulfil their potential, just like any other children.

Soraya Post MEP is a S&D group member from Sweden, Peter Niedermueller MEP, is a S&D group member from Hungary

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