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Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities Wroclaw gipsies against Poland. Roma, whose houses were destroyed by the decision of the authorities of Wroclaw, accuse the government of violating 4 articles of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Discrimination against the Roma (total population of 20-25 thousand) can be noted. Much of this ethnic group resides in substandard housing. 90% of the employable population does not have a permanent job because employers do not want to employ them . Only 39% of Roma women and 56% of Roma men are entitled to pensions.

Roma are deprived of use of social services. 60% of Roma children do not attend kindergartens (the figure for non-Roma children is 28%). According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, less than 30% of Roma reported having middle or secondary special education (compared to 80% of non-Roma that were surveyed). Not all children of the Roma families, for whatever reason, are included in the educational system, and 1 in 5 Roma children is referred by the authorities to study in a special school for mentally retarded children, most likely due to poor knowledge of the Polish language . There is also the problem of segregation of Roma children in schools, i.e. the creation of “Roma classes” .

Muslims and Jews ended up among the discriminated groups due to the legal ban on the ritual slaughter that came into force in 2013. In addition, Jewish and Muslim prisoners complain about the inability to get kosher and halal food in prison.

Another group being discriminated against is LGBT. There have been complaints of the violation of their dignity at the hands of the police . Members of the Kashubian minority have complained about the lack of television programmes in their language . In early September, owner of a restaurant in Sopot, Ian Hermanovich, hung a sing on the door of his establishment, saying “We do not serve Russians.” He exampled that this is an expression of his protest against Russia’s actions in Ukraine . The sign was subsequently taken down, after mayor of Sopot visited the restaurant.

On January 28, 2013, deputies of the lower chamber of the Polish parliament rejected a set of bills providing for the legalisation of gay marriage. Against the three-bill package voted 228 deputies, whereas “in favour” voted 211. Legislative initiatives introduced by representatives of the liberal-conservative party “Civic Platform” proposed legalisation of same-sex civil unions as well as granting them a number of rights, including the right to inherit property . The current system of protected centres for foreigners is modelled after the military or the prison regime, combined with the exterior design and interior architecture the whole deal is just depressing .

There have been reports where asylum seekers were denied entry at the border with Belarus. In January-September 2013, 13 348 people have been denied asylum, while 4 078 people were allowed to submit their documents. Some refugees had to make 6-9 attempts .

According to the Polish Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, there have been complaints regarding lack of access to a translator, lack of legal help and limited contact with relatives . Other complaints were related to extremely long periods of detention, where the staff have poor knowledge of foreign languages. Refugee children are placed in the same centres (24% of the total amount of refugees were children, as of February 2014). They have no access to ordinary schools, and lessons conducted in the centres are ineffective due to language barriers and the fact that the same lesson is held for children of all ages and level of education .

Immigrants and refugees face discrimination in employment. Some reports indicate that they are paid lower wages, work longer hours and without a formal employment agreement. Meanwhile, landlords are reluctant to let their apartments to foreign nationals.

Despite the condemnation of such a policy by the neighbors of Ukraine, the Polish government, whose citizens were the victims of the bloody pogroms of the OUN-UPA, Poland itself also tolerates their own radicals. In particular, the auxiliary material for the police, "Hate Crimes", containing a list of symbols used by radical nationalists, was withdrawn by the decision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of this country in March 2016.

One of the most significant examples of practices affecting minorities are the resolutions passed by several Polish municipal or regional local councils calling their areas "LGBT-free zones. In total, more than 100 municipalities have passed such resolutions, mostly in south-eastern Poland. The European Parliament, in its resolution, strongly condemned their adoption (with 463 votes in favor, 107 against and 105 abstentions). Despite the fact that the resolutions passed in Poland are of a non-binding (only declarative) nature, the European Parliament called upon the Polish authorities to condemn these acts and to repeal all the resolutions against LGBTI rights. In addition, MEPs called on the Commission to monitor how all EU funds are used, to remind interested parties of their obligations not to discriminate, and that such funds should not be used for discriminatory purposes.

With regard to the situation of migrants, the observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination are worth mentioning: "The Committee takes note of the measures taken to facilitate access to free public education and educational support services for foreign children, including refugee and asylum-seeking children. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned:

  • the continued practice of holding unaccompanied or separated children in secure alien centers, which exposes children to trauma and denies them access to face-to-face education;
  • reports that asylum seekers have been denied entry into the territory of a state party or access to asylum procedures by border officials;
  • the inadequacy of individualized integration programs for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection;
  • multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination faced by undocumented migrant women in accessing maternity care;
  • reports of ongoing hate speech and hate crimes against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers."

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