25 June 2019
UN condemns UK Government

On Friday 14th June, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Tendayi Achiume, released her final report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance following her visit to the United Kingdom in May last year. Her findings highlight ‘the state of invisibility, marginalization and exclusion that have long been endured by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.’

The Special Rapporteur’s report highlights discrimination experienced in education, accommodation, health and criminal justice and makes several recommendations to address these inequalities. One of which is that the UK government should adopt ‘concrete strategies for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent and members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’. This follows news from the government earlier this month on plans to launch a new cross departmental strategy to tackle inequalities experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

United Nations says UK Government not doing enough to tackle GRT inequalities
United Nations says UK Government not doing enough to tackle GRT inequalities

The Special Rapporteur also echoes recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee earlier this year on the inequalities experienced by Gypsy Roma and Traveller pupils in school. The Special Rapporteur wrote,

“With respect to education, the situation is analogously grim. Race and ethnicity continue to have a significant impact on educational outcomes. The circumstances confronting Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are especially dire.”

During the Special Rapporteur’s visit Friends, Families and Travellers organised a round table eventfor community members to give oral evidence, which clearly resonated with the delegation. At the event, a 15 year old Romany Gypsy school pupil spoke with the Special Rapporteur at the event and her evidence is referenced in the report. Commenting on the report she said,

“I was grateful to have the chance to speak up about the racist abuse I suffered at school. You are supposed to feel safe in school but mostly I was just scared. I’m glad the Special Rapporteur has told the Government that more needs to be done for all children to feel safe at school, no matter what community they are from.”

In response to the report, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager said,

“We’re pleased to see the UN Special Rapporteur recognises the ways in which racism and discrimination is experienced in the many aspects of life for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. We are particularly encouraged by the recommendation which highlights the need for adequate and culturally appropriate accommodation and access to basic services for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.”

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