Weekly news

ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 03-10-2013

ERIO news and activities

* ERIO Workshop “Protecting Roma Against Discrimination: The Role of Equality Bodies”
On 27 September, ERIO hosted its second workshop with Equality Bodies on “Protecting Roma Against Discrimination: The Role of Equality Bodies”, to identify the challenges they face in combating discrimination of Roma. The workshop was held at the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (Belgian Equality Body) in Brussels and was attended by Equality Bodies from ten EU states. In addition, representatives from the European Commission, EQUINET, Roma representatives and a number of NGOs attended.
 
The workshop was opened by Ivan Ivanov, Executive Director of ERIO, who noted the specific work needed to address the particular discrimination of Roma, and emphasised the importance of Equality Bodies and civil society working together. Anne Gaspard, Director of EQUINET, then explained the role and work of EQUINET in addressing the discrimination of Roma. François Sant’Angelo, Lawyer for the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism followed by drawing attention to the significant challenges facing Roma, particularly widespread prejudice and denial of full access to their rights as EU citizens. Finally, Jana Balazova from the European Commission spoke about the need for EU member states to appropriately implement both the National Roma Integration Strategies and other anti-discrimination legislation in order to convincingly fight discrimination of Roma.
 
Two rounds of discussion with the Equality Bodies then identified a number of key challenges that they face in the fight against discrimination of Roma. Underreporting of experiences of discrimination was identified as a significant issue. A range of reasons for this trend were identified, including lack of trust in authorities and Equality Bodies, and a lack of knowledge and awareness amongst Roma communities of their rights. In addition, a number of Equality Bodies reported that the economic crisis and subsequent budget cuts have placed constraints on their work. Further, widespread austerity measures have left majority society in a number of states hostile towards the prospect of money being used in programs aimed at the integration of a minority group. Finally, a vigorous discussion took place on the singularity of Roma racism and discrimination. It was observed that in many states, racism towards Roma is freely expressed as a socially legitimate phenomenon, and that a change in attitudes must be the first step in achieving equality.
 
In conclusion, the need for Equality Bodies and civil society to work together and exchange information was stressed, as was the vital need for Roma to be involved as active participants in the process of combating their discrimination.
* ERIO statement condemning anti-Roma statements made by French Interior Minister
On 3 October ERIO published a statement condemning the recent anti-Roma statements made by Manuel Valls, French Interior Minister. These statements blamed Roma for failing to integrate into French society and rejected any responsibility on the part of the French state to integrate or welcome migrant Roma who hold EU citizenship. Despite widespread criticism, Mr Valls has defended his remarks. These statements are of particular concern due to the contemporary climate in France towards Roma migrants, as they may serve to further fuel anti-Gypsyism and racially motivated violence against Roma. ERIO calls on Mr Valls and all politicians and public officials in the EU to refrain from engaging in anti-Roma discourses, to strongly oppose all forms of discriminatory political speech, and to uphold the fundamental rights of Roma as EU citizens.

Read the full statement here.
* ERIO statement condemning anti-Roma statements made by French Interior Minister
On 4 October ERIO sent an open letter to Mr Erik Ullenhag, Minister of Integration of Sweden, regarding the recently uncovered police register of Roma compiled by police in Skåne County. The letter acknowledges the positive work that both the Swedish government and Equality Body have undertaken concerning Swedish Roma communities, and praised the openness and willingness of both to actively address the issue of Roma integration. However, the revelation of an ethnically compiled register of almost 5,000 Roma that presupposes a direct link between Roma ethnicity and criminality directly contradicts the otherwise well-deserved reputation of Sweden as a leader in democracy, human rights, and Roma inclusion, and contravenes a number of fundamental human rights. ERIO makes clear that it believes this register was compiled without the knowledge of the Swedish government, however it urges the Swedish government to take all necessary measures to eliminate this deeply discriminatory practice in order to maintain Sweden’s standing in Europe as a leader in human rights and democracy.

Read the letter here.

OTHER news

ANNOUNCEMENTS and events

* Film CAUSE COMMUNE (by Sophie Averty) - (54mins) at Festival des Libertés
End of 2009, forty Roma families undesirable Nantes, towing caravans ageless arrive in Indre, a small town in the Loire valley. The mayor decided to put an end to what he calls "political hot potato" by refusing to expel his turn. Will it count on the support of other elected officials and residents of Indre?
Followed by a meeting with Sophie Averty, Jean-Luc Le Drenn (Mayor of Indre), Monica Rossi (sociologist).
When: 24 October 2013, 20h45 - Where: Théatre National > Salle J. Huisman
Partnership: Médecins du Monde, LDH, Cire, European Roma Information Office

Read more here
* Marian Madison Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholar’s Prize in Romani Studies
The Gypsy Lore Society established the Marian Madison Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholar’s Prize in Romani Studies for the best unpublished paper by a young scholar on a topic in Gypsy and Traveler Studies. The prize is a cash award of $500. The winning paper will be published, after any necessary revisions, in an issue of the journal Romani Studies. The deadline for receipt of papers for the current cycle is October 30, 2013. The screening committee expects to make the announcement of the winner by January 30, 2014.

Read more here
* Call for participation in Training for Roma Youth Organizations
In the framework of the Roma Youth Action Plan, the Youth Department is organizing in the period 16 – 24 November 2013 a training course on the management and development of Roma youth organisations. The training course will gather 30 Roma youth leaders with the aim to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of Roma youth organisations in representing and voicing the concerns and needs of Roma young people and in working with Roma young people.

All candidates must apply online, completing the application form here
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