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Europe: Rights Of Roma Not Respected

Warsaw, 24 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Delegates to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on human rights said last week the situation of Roma everywhere in Europe is bad and their rights are commonly not respected.

Our correspondent reported from the conference in Warsaw that speakers criticized the authorities in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and former Yugoslavia for doing little to improve the situation of Romas, while praising positive changes in Hungary.

Erika Schlager, a member of the U.S. delegation, said that the past year was particularly bad for Roma in Europe. She said a Romani boy was murdered in Belgrade and many violent, racist attacks occurred against the Roma in central Europe.

Schlager said recent decisions taken by the Slovak and Czech governments to address the Romany issue may result in the improvement of their situation.

Schlager said Hungary has made a major effort to change the situation. It allowed Romany communities to have local self-governments, while a Roma Press Center was established.