Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities together constitute Europe’s largest ethnic minority and they share a history of persecution with Jewish people.
Recent studies have shown that GRT communities experience more racism and discrimination than any other group in the UK and face multiple disadvantages, such as with regards to education, health, the workplace and the justice system.
Today, the Home Office issued a statement regarding a crack down on “illegal traveller sites” as a way of ” protecting our local communities”.
We are committed to protecting our local communities. That’s why we are proposing new powers for police to crack down on illegal traveller sites, including making it a criminal offence to trespass when setting up these camps. pic.twitter.com/4XVGiBYg5h— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) February 9, 2019
The Home Office’s tweet has been righfuly met by critism. René Cassin Director, Mia Hasenson-Gross, has issued the below statement in response:
“We must call out institutional prejudice and discrimination when we see it. It is the kind of discrimination that permeates the deepest levels of society, such that it is often not even recognised for what it is.
Those who live on unauthorised sites largely do so because there are not enough authorised sites to park. The Govt should focus their efforts on addressing the severe shortage of official sites, to ensure Travellers are protected in their right to a home.
The Jewish community stands in solidarity with the Traveller community in eliminating prejudice.”
The need for equal rights when it comes to housing has been poignantly highlighted by a Romany Gypsy schoolboy, aged 10, who has written to the Prime Minister to ask for more sites.