Considering the Swedish Commission against Antiziganism 2014-2016
National Research Report by Jan Selling
At the European level, the Swedish Commission against Antiziganism (the Commission) has frequently been cited as a promising example in discussions around truth and reconciliation processes (TRPs) concerning Roma and policies against antigypsyism . Jan Selling, the author of this report, puts the Commission into context and analyses its impacts and limitations, based on desk research and interviews with key Romani and non-Romani actors.
In the authors view, the Commission was successful in agenda-setting during its mandate, and it evidently contributed to establishing the concept of antigypsyism in official language. Other impacts were that the process leading to the ongoing Sami truth commission was inspired by – and learned from – the mistakes of the corresponding Roma process. Also, the German Bundestag Commission on antigypsyism benefited from the Swedish experience. Yet, there is widespread frustration that the Swedish Commission did not have a lasting effect due to lack of time, resources and political will. Several interviewees also stressed that lack of independence was a major weakness.
The Commission came to suffer from the same problems as many other Roma policy measures: the impact weakens if projects are short-lived and without a clear successor. In this case, the Commission leant too heavily on the goodwill of one individual minister, and a change in political leadership left its results hanging in the air.
The Commission’s recommendations have not been followed up in a comprehensive way. For example, Roma are still waiting for an official apology from the state; there is still no comprehensive strategy against antigypsyism; and the idea of empowering Roma through a permanent secretariat has been dropped.
As Roma in Sweden have no non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of comparable strength to the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, for instance, the power disadvantage identified by the Delegation persists. This report also confirms the conclusions of international studies, which state that the Swedish model of consultation with Roma representatives is not functioning well: Roma are rarely involved in decisions, but rather cited as alibis.
Antigypsyism in Sweden is still less questioned and seen as more acceptable than other forms of racism, in terms of both hate crime and structural racism. Up to now, Sweden has ignored demands to upgrade the national Roma inclusion strategy in accordance with the new EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS), which prescribes a paradigmatic shift in focus: from a one-sided focus on Roma as the problem towards a holistic approach to antigypsyism.
Jan Selling offers an important conclusion, that Roma ownership of a TRP presupposes powerful, dedicated and knowledgeable allies in the state who are dedicated to ensuring meaningful participation, but also careful planning of Roma civil society structures.
You can access the report here.
This Brief presents and summarizes the key findings and policy recommendations based on the four CHACHIPEN Country Reports covering Germany, Romania, Sweden, and Spain. It highlights commonalities and differences between these EU member states, draws lessons learned, and makes recommendations for future EU policy interventions. This Brief also takes into account the key findings resulting from the Strategic Visioning Exercise that took place on 23 June 2022 as part of the CHACHIPEN project.
This paper represents an analysis of antigypsyism in Romania. It is part of the
CHACHIPEN project, advancing the recognition of, and response to, antigypsyism to
achieve justice, equality, non-discrimination, and the full participation of Roma as
equal citizens across Europe.
This research is part of the European project CHACHIPEN which pursues the key
objective of advancing the recognition and response to historically rooted and
systemic antigypsyism to achieve justice, equality, non-discrimination, and the full
participation of Roma as equal citizens across Europe.
How can transitional justice tools address historically rooted antigypsyism? What can we learn from transitional justice experiences with truth and reconciliation commissions around the globe? What could be applied and to which chapters of the dark history of antigypsyism? These and other topical questions have been addressed during the Strategic Visioning Exercise convened by CEPS.