Who Protects the Universal Rights of Undesired Migrants? The Collective Evictions and Expulsions of Roma Migrants in the European Union

The event is part of the seminar series Migration in a Global Perspective and will take place on November 8th, Room 102, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Panduri Campus at 5:00 pm.

This multidisciplinary research explores the sensitive accommodation of universal human rights protection and cultural diversity. By drawing upon the empirical research methodology of social sciences and upon theoretical concepts from the philosophy of human rights, the project aims to bring a new perspective on the issue of cultural relativity of human rights in the context of migration. The empirical research that underpins the conceptual analysis takes as a case study a notorious but little researched population: the Eastern European migrants, many of whom of Roma ethinicity, that beg and/or live on the streets of European cities. The migration of Eastern Europeans to Western European cities for making a living out of begging is an ongoing phenomenon. These migrants are legally under the protection of human rights stipulations against discrimination both in their countries of origin and in their countries of destination. The application of non-discrimination principles seems to be rather difficult though. Attitudes towards poor Eastern Europeans and the Roma have been recontextualized within the current preoccupation of Western European population for growing migration and for the spending of public money in the form of welfare benefits. State authorities are put in the situation that their obligations as main human rights law enforcer and protector, are seemingly impossible to accommodate with the state´s duty towards the concerns of the majority population. This seems to be even more so when the animosity and historically mistrust towards the Roma are defining the dynamics between the migrants and the receiving population. Centuries old discourses about the mischievous and backward nature of the Roma are embedded in the culture of the majority population and, when mobilized, these discourses are seldom put under question. The main argument of this paper is that the enforcement of human rights law is frustrated by cultural categories of worth that place the migrants outside the reach of the moral values the majority group applies to itself. The research looks at how law enforcers and authorities in the receiving countries position the migrants as an out-group and how breaches of human rights law are justified.

Short bio: Dragoş Ciulinaru is a Ph.D. student under the coordination of Professor Adrian Paul Iliescu at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Philosophy. He holds a Master degree in Social Science from the University of Helsinki and a Bachelors of Law. The current research is focusing on the enforcement of human rights law in the case of migrants, as part of a wider preoccupation for the cultural relativity of human rights. In November 2015, he was a guest researcher at the Center for Migration Law, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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