234 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6460
Hon. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
Media Contact: Neil Simon
June 9, 2009


Briefing on Rise of Violence Against Roma

WASHINGTON—Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), announced today the Commission will hold a briefing on:

“Hard Times and Hardening Attitudes: The Economic Downturn and the Rise of Violence Against Roma”

WHEN: Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1 p.m.: Media availability with expert panelists

2 p.m.: Briefing begins

WHERE: 1539 Longworth House Office Building

Anti-Roma violence is escalating, dramatically illustrated by the gruesome murder of a father and his five-year-old son in Hungary in February and a fire-bombing in April that left a two-year-old child in the Czech Republic burned over 80 percent of her body. Such violence in the past has led to increased waves of Romani asylum seekers in North America.

The Commission will hear from four experts working on Romani human rights issues who will discuss how the down economy and recent spike in violence could combine for similar affects this year, possible inter-ethnic instability, and challenges to ending the marginalization of Europe’s largest ethnic minority.

The following panelists are scheduled to speak:

Katalin Barsony (Hungary), sociologist, filmmaker and project manager at the Budapest-based Roma NGO Romedia Foundation
Stanislav Daniel (Slovakia), Research Consultant, European Roma Rights Center
Isabela Mihalache (Romania), Senior Program Manager, Roma Initiatives, Open Society Institute (OSI)
Andrzej Mirga, Advisor on Romani Issues, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights


Czech Republic


National Minorities


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Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic (C), who serves as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 2015, meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (L) and Helsinki Commission Chairman Chris Smith (R) immediately after the February 25 hearing on Serbia's leadership of the OSCE. (Feb. 2015)