Over the last few years, acts of violence giving rise to death,
injury and a climate of fear have forced many Roma to leave their
countries, in order to apply for asylum in other countries, some
of which are member states of the European Union. European Union
legislation provides that it is safe to return asylum seekers to European
Union member states; they are considered “safe countries of origin”.
A citizen of one European Union member state may thus not be granted
refugee protection in another European Union member state, save
in exceptional cases. Since the requirements for long-term residence
in another European Union member are often so stringent that many
Roma asylum seekers are unable to fulfil them, they find themselves
in a state of limbo and in an irregular situation.
A further issue of importance is that around 100 000 Roma
who fled violence in Kosovo are
now facing return, after having spent up to ten years in western
European or neighbouring countries. If they are returned they face great
social difficulties, discrimination and threats to their personal
security. They have little chance of successfully reintegrating.
Many of the children of these potential Roma returnees are born
in or have lived all their lives in the host countries. Between
70% and 75% of Roma returnees have left Kosovo again following their
In order to deal with these different issues, the rapporteur
underlines the importance of providing asylum seekers with an individual,
specific, fair asylum assessment and the opportunity to rebut the
presumption of safety that exists in cases of flight within the
European Union. The rapporteur also insists on the prompt re-evaluation
of the return policy aimed at Roma from Kosovo and urges member
states to consider suspending returns and examining the option of
providing for local integration in the host countries. However,
if returns are enforced, they should be accompanied by genuine assistance.