Refugee status for EU nationals of Roma origin in the EU?
Additionally, a recent Irish case confirmed that the denial of access to basic education amounts to persecution under the Geneva Convention. A very similar situation could be found in case of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
Irish court decision:
Denial of education to a Roma child amounts to persecution under Geneva
The Irish high court delivered the judgment D. [a minor] -v- Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Anor on 10 November 2011 ( IEHC 431), claiming that the denial of access to basic primary education of a Roma child in Serbia violates his basic human rights and amounts to persecution according to the Geneva Convention. See the summary in the Irish Times.
The Court said that while the present case certainly falls outside the classic types of persecution envisaged by the Geneva Convention involving violence and threats of violence, it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that the denial of even basic education amounts to a severe violation of basic human rights (to adapt the language of Article 9(1) of the Qualifications Directive). In that respect, therefore, the finding that the denial of basic education in such circumstances amounts to persecution within the meaning of the s. 2 of the Refugee Act 1996 (“the 1996 Act”).
Although there is no universally accepted definition of persecution, the judge quoted from Professor James Hathaway’s book, The Law of Refugee Status, where persecution is defined as “the failure to implement a right within the category which is either discriminatory or not grounded in the absolute lack of resources.”
The judgment is interesting not only for defining persecution, but also from the point of view of Roma being granted asylum in the EU. Although Serbia is not an EU Member State, it might have an impact on further asylum applications of Roma based on denial of access to basic education.
Karolína Babická works as migration and asylum policy and advocacy officer in European Brussels-based NGO. She holds a PhD in international law from Charles University in Prague and Odysseus Network Certificate in EU Migration and Asylum Law.