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MRG concerned over remarks made by Irish judge on Roma community

6 November 2009

Minority Rights Group International expressed concern this week over remarks made by a judge in Ireland who reportedly stated that the Roma community ‘raise’ their children to steal.

Judge Ní Chonduin, presiding over a case where a 16 year-old Roma girl, admitted to stealing €320 worth of children’s shoes at a Shopping Centre, in Dublin, reportedly said: ‘It is a different culture, it does not go with our ways and our shops are being robbed blind, I feel sorry for these children.’

‘Comments such as this, contribute to prejudices and negative stereo-typing of an entire community,’ says Snjezana Bokulic, MRG’s Director of Programmes.

‘They could have very serious consequences and contribute to discrimination especially as it comes from a member of the judiciary,’ she adds.

Roma already face discrimination and exclusion in most parts of Europe. They are one of the poorest and neglected communities in the continent.

MRG also warned that such comments could be perceived to prevent fair trial and may affect access to justice for other people within the community.

‘It is worrying that a judge should a priori condemn an entire community. In such circumstances, the Roma do not stand a chance at a fair trial,’ Bokulic says.

‘It is important that the relevant authorities take action to wipe out racism in Ireland and ensure that the rights of all people in the country are promoted and protected,’ she adds.