The statement of the mayor of Belgrade, Aleksandar Šapić, related to solving the problem of Roma living in unhygienic informal settlements in Belgrade is reprehensible, inappropriate, and deeply worrying because it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of all life obstacles faced by Roma, said the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković. She says such statements further fuel prejudice against this marginalized social group and deepen the pervasive narrative of blaming those discriminated against.
The Commissioner says that it is undeniable that finding an adequate solution for housing citizens from unhygienic settlements is extremely complex. That is why this problem must be approached carefully, with an essential understanding of all circumstances, and respect for the basic human rights of all citizens, as well as the involvement of their representatives, civil society organizations, and other state actors.
It would be important for the mayor of the capital of a European country to understand why discriminatory rhetoric is dangerous and to apologize for it.