Two groups, Roma and Romanies reside in Norway, considering themselves as two different ethnic groups, speaking two related, albeit different languages Romanes and Romani respectively. Roma refers to Vlach Roma with between 300-400 people and Romanies (also known as travellers or tater) are estimated to number around 2000-4000 individuals. To these two groups, one can now add that of migrant Roma and Roma refugees, particularly from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both the Roma and the Romanies are recognized as national minorities within the Norwegian state. 

Political representation

There is no Romanes or Roma representation in the national parliament nor an officially recognized political party. Yet several Roma organizations function in Norway, most focus on culture enhancement and the spreading of information about the history, culture and language of Roma among the community proper and the majority population. These groups include The Stifltelsen Roma, Romani & Romanes folklets Landsforening, Romanifolkets Landsforbund, and Romanifolkets Kommissjonsrad. 

Public policy

The Norwegian constitution (1814) neither expressly prohibits racial, ethnic, sexual, religious discrimination, nor provides for equality of treatment. However, the Article 110 (July 1994), requires the state to 'respect and ensure' human rights. Norway ratified the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1999 and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 1993. Romanies and the Roma are recognized as national minorities; only the Sami language was recognized within the latter.

The Norwegian penal code has several provisions concerning discrimination. Norway ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1970 and the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in 1972. The code penalty against racial violence is only given in cases which involve bodily harm or substantial damage. However, very few cases of racial (or ethnic) violence have been tried in the country.

Two major bodies can be said to be of importance when it comes to issues pertaining to the Romanies and the Roma population in Norway: The Department of Indigenous, Minority and Immigrant Affairs and the Centre for Combating Ethnic Discrimination, both within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. In the 1970s the programme aimed at improving the conditions of the Romanies in Norway was developed as the Norwegian Rehabilitation Programme. Since, a range of small scope, cultural projects of the Norwegian government which involved the Roma have been in place.

  • In 1997 an exhibition sponsored by the Norwegian government focusing on the life of the Romanies.
  • The ministry of Culture sponsored the publication of an information booklet on the Travellers and the publication of a Norwegian-Romani dictionary. Additionally, in terms of cultural awareness raising, there have been financing of several studies on the lives of the Romanies by the Ministry of Social and Health Affairs, although little has been done in terms of improving the socio-economic situation of the Roma communities in Norway.
  • In 1999 a Gypsy Festival for the promotion of the Romani culture took place in Oslo, funded by the Ministry of Culture and the Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs.

In 1998 a Working Group was set up, focused on the national policies concerning the Romanies and the Roma in Norway. Several direct measures to tackle the situation of national minorities were taken in 1999 with the support for the organizations of national minorities and for projects that would benefit the latter, including the Romanies groups. Also in 1999 the Centre for Combating Ethnic Discrimination was set up within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, with its main task being that of monitoring discrimination practices and providing legal advice, legal and financial assistance  to groups that are faced with discrimination or marginalization, on various grounds (ethnicity, religion, race or national origin).

There are no special measures or organizations dealing specifically with the Romanies and the Roma population set up.  

Further information

Compiled by Raluca Bianca Roman

Page updated: 06.10.2011
Probing the limits of integration: Romani and Traveller minorities in Europe
Collaborative Research Network sponsored by the University Association for Contemporary European Studies
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