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Swiss gypsies suffer discrimination

There are few sites for gypsies in Switzerland Keystone Archive

A new report says gypsies in Switzerland suffer discrimination despite the fact that minorities have protections and rights enshrined in federal law. The report said legal loopholes often restricted gypsies' freedom of movement and ability to work.

This content was published on April 25, 2001 - 16:48

The report, on the legal and social situation of minorities in Switzerland, was endorsed by the government on Wednesday, after being carried out on behalf of the Council of Europe.

It followed Switzerland's ratification of a European convention on the protection of minorities in 1998.

In a statement, the government highlighted the report's findings that minorities enjoy rights and protections under the constitution, but acknowledged that these were not always sufficient to prevent discrimination.

It agreed with the report that there was a lack of sites where gypsies could reside, that the cantonal system made it difficult for their to ply their trades in different parts of the country, and that the education system made it difficult for gypsy children to attend school.

The government said it was trying to make up for the shortcomings with special assistance programmes for travellers. It added that citizens had to respect human rights in an environment of understanding and tolerance.

The Federal Anti-Racism Commission as well as human rights groups have in the past called for an improvement in living conditions of gypsies in Switzerland. They said it had become increasingly difficult for travellers to follow their traditional life-style.

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