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Minority rights Roma denied official minority status in Switzerland

 Roma community celebrates the Birth of the Virgin Mary in Costesti, Romania.

The Romani or Roma, are a traditionally itinerant ethnic group. They live primarily in Europe.

(swissinfo.ch)

The Swiss government has denied the Roma community in Switzerland recognition as a national minority.

Two Swiss Roma organisations had requested this status under the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

It was the first such application since Switzerland ratified the convention in 1998. Switzerland recognises its national linguistic minorities, the members of the Jewish community and the Swiss Yenish and Sinti/Manouche as national minorities.

The Federal Council said on Friday it considers the Roma minority as an integral part of Swiss society but determined the group did not meet the criteria to obtain national minority status. 

"Swiss nationality and the will to safeguard together what constitutes their common identity are not sufficiently established," it wrote. 

The criterion of long-standing ties with Switzerland, the government added, is not fulfilled.

Travellers

Roma, Sinti, Kale, Lovara, Machvaya are just some of the hundreds of nomadic groups using the Romani language, who originally came from northwestern India between the 10th and 14th centuries.They moved in waves first towards Asia Minor and then towards North Africa and Greece, before fanning out across Europe.Although grouped together as travellers (or more pejoratively as gypsies), these nomadic peoples are in reality very diverse, in terms of ethnic background but also in terms of language, culture and religion of the country in which they reside.They have been persecuted and discriminated against for hundreds of years and now live on the margins of society – not through choice.They make up the largest ethnic minority in Europe, but it is hard to gain a clear overview.Some estimates have their numbers at 15-20 million. Most live in central western Europe, with around two million in Romania.

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