Roma People

  • Argumentation of the Court of Strasbourg’s Jurisprudence regarding the discrimination against Roma

    Author: Cristina Hermida del Llano
    E-mail: cristina.hermida@urjc.es
    Institution: Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain
    Year of publication: 2015
    Source: Show
    Pages: 11-38
    DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/ppk.2015.06.01
    PDF: ppk/28/ppk2801.pdf

    While the Court has, to some degree, started to protect against discrimination based on birth or nationality, the protection against discrimination on the basis of race until 2005 has been very poor and dubious. Upon reviewing the case law of the ECHR, we find that since the case “Relating to certain aspects of the laws on the use of language in education in Belgium” v. Belgium in 1968, the Court has decided to opt in favor of the original English version of art. 14, which underscores that the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms must be assured “without discrimination” and defends the concept that equality should be interpreted as non-discrimination, while clarifying that this disposition does not prohibit preferential treatment, such that, in the eyes of the Court, this principle is only violated when preferential treatment implies “a discriminatory treatment”, so the task for us is to determine in detail when the two are correlated. The cited decision is an essential reference as it provides the pointers needed to discern whether or not a violation of art. 14 exists, as in a “test” of equality that entails: (1) whether the distinction in treatment lacks objective justification; (2) whether the difference in treatment results in conformity with the objective of the effects of the measure examined attendant to the principles that generally prevail in democratic societies; (3) whether there exists a reasonable relationship between the means used and the end sought. Despite this interpretational recognition of art. 14, if we analyze in detail the Court’s jurisprudence, how the Court has approached the topic of discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin is somewhat disappointing. The fact that during decades plaintiffs were required to provide proof beyond the shadow of a doubt has restricted the Court’s influence on discriminatory actions based on race or ethnicity; for this reason, it is not unexpected that in time critical dissidence arose, even within the Court itself. A good example of this is given by Judge Bonello in the decision Anguelova vs Bulgaria (2002). Here we analyze how the jurisprudence of the Court of Strasbourg has evolved in the context of discrimination against Roma, so as to ascertain the challenges that remain in this area.

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