Anti-Roma prejudice:"Worse than a decade ago"
Anti-Roma prejudice is rife in Sweden and the police and authorities must become much better at fighting it. That's the view of the newly established Swedish Commission against Antiziganism, which presented its first report to the government on Friday.
If the responsible authorities clearly reacted against anti-Roma prejudice and thought about Roma rights, then the trust gap between Roma and the majority of society would be bridged more effectively, according to the report, which took two years to compile.
Many Roma are experiencing increased racism and discrimination in modern Sweden.
Rosita Grönfors, is President of the International Romani and Traveller Women's center in Stockholm and gives an example of the everyday discrimination she encounters.
"Straight after I walk into a supermarket they call the guards. There will be two guards who follow me all the time until I have gone out of the shop. Many times they even follow me when I go to another store," she tells Swedish Radio News.
"It's offensive to me, that I should be treated this way, we are a minority group."
Rosita Grönfors wears traditional Roma clothes and has lived in Sweden for 58 years. She says that in Sweden today, she experiences more racism than ten years ago.
"It is alarming that it should be like this. Discrimination has increased and is spreading in Sweden."
In the Commission's report, Educating people at a young age is key.
One of its proposals is to make a textbook out of the contents of the White Paper, which the government published last year, and which chronicles the abuses and violations that the Roma community has suffered in Sweden. The hope is that this book will become part of the regular school curriculum.
Another proposal is to establish a national Roma institution, which brings together the responsibility for matters relating to anti-Roma prejudice and Roma rights.
The Commission, which was appointed by the former Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag over two years ago, is headed by Thomas Hammarberg, the former Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe. He tells Swedish Radio that the Roma have little confidence in the authorities.
"The view is that the authorities are not doing enough to disclose the racism against Roma, and when they complain, they say they do not get a hearing."
"In particular, we are talking about the police and their behaviour. The register that the police in Skåne kept with the names of over 4,000 Roma became a huge shock. They experience it as a sign that the prejudice and discrimination continues."
The Commission will now draw up a proposal on how a Roma institution could look like.
"The Sami people, with their Sami Parliament for example, and the Jewish community also has an organized voice in Swedish society, but the Roma have not," Thomas Hammarberg says.