This was my first post about the Roma on Harry’s Place. The idea that people’s ability to leave their country might depend on their ethnicity seemed a real concern. This important issue is the subject of an article by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, which you can read in full here.
The initial focus is on Macedonia, which has:
decided to criminalise “abuse of the European Union visa-free regime and of the Schengen agreement”. It has also determined that those who have been forcibly returned as failed asylum seekers could have their passports temporarily confiscated.
Other countries in the region have also taken steps to prevent certain people from travelling to EU countries. Those who seek to leave for the EU area are asked to justify the purpose of their intended travel and to prove that they can finance their stay there as well as their return. If the answers are deemed unsatisfactory the travel may not be allowed.
He asserts that minorities, particularly the Roma, are being singled out for scrutiny, and identifies the same problem which sparked my own interest in this topic:
This [the scrutiny of Roma travellers] is further amplified by the notion in public discourse that the visa-exempt status may be withdrawn because of the movement of Roma people. In other words, they are scapegoated again. …
Though states have a legitimate authority to regulate immigration, the right of the individual to leave his or her country is an established human right.