The world cannot afford to ignore any dimension of the problem of racism

UK Government condemned by United Nations for ongoing failure to tackle systemic racism towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

On Friday 14th June, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Tendayi Achiume, released her final report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance following her visit to the United Kingdom in May last year. Her findings highlight ‘the state of invisibility, marginalization and exclusion that have long been endured by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.’

The Special Rapporteur’s report highlights discrimination experienced in education, accommodation, health and criminal justice and makes several recommendations to address these inequalities. One of which is that the UK government should adopt ‘concrete strategies for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent and members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’. This follows news from the government earlier this month on plans to launch a new cross departmental strategy to tackle inequalities experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The Special Rapporteur also echoes recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee earlier this year on the inequalities experienced by Gypsy Roma and Traveller pupils in school. The Special Rapporteur wrote,

“With respect to education, the situation is analogously grim. Race and ethnicity continue to have a significant impact on educational outcomes. The circumstances confronting Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are especially dire.”

During the Special Rapporteur’s visit Friends, Families and Travellers organised a round table event for community members to give oral evidence, which clearly resonated with the delegation. At the event, a 15 year old Romany Gypsy school pupil spoke with the Special Rapporteur at the event and her evidence is referenced in the report. Commenting on the report she said,

“I was grateful to have the chance to speak up about the racist abuse I suffered at school. You are supposed to feel safe in school but mostly I was just scared. I’m glad the Special Rapporteur has told the Government that more needs to be done for all children to feel safe at school, no matter what community they are from.”

In response to the report, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager said,

“We’re pleased to see the UN Special Rapporteur recognises the ways in which racism and discrimination is experienced in the many aspects of life for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. We are particularly encouraged by the recommendation which highlights the need for adequate and culturally appropriate accommodation and access to basic services for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.”


Notes for Editor

About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.

Media Contact

Lucy Hetherington, Communications Officer

Tel: 01273 234 038 Email: [email protected]

Relevant Resources

Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on her visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

United Nations Special Rapporteur meets with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller civil society to discuss racism and intolerance

Women and Equalities Committee call on UK government to address ‘stark’ inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

What does the UN Special Rapporteur report on poverty and human rights say about Gypsies and Travellers in the UK?

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