Ombudsman slams treatment of Roma by Greek state and media

Greece’s citizens’ advocate issued a scathing assessment on Friday of the way authorities and the media had handled the case of Maria, the young girl taken from a Roma family last week after authorities found her DNA did not match that of her supposed parents.

The Ombudsman said that the case had highlighted the poor provisions for protecting minors in Greece and called on the government to make this “a priority of national policy.” The watchdog said authorities also needed to urgently examine the adoption process in Greece.

With officials waiting to see if a DNA test on a Roma woman in Bulgaria will prove she is Maria’s mother, the Ombudsman also criticized some media for reproducing “stereotypes and racist attitudes.” The watchdog emphasized that the state is doing too little to combat the Roma’s social exclusion. It called for more regular visits of social workers to Roma encampments and greater efforts to register Gypsies as full citizens of Greece.