Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at the High Level Event on Non-Discrimination and Equality in Rome, Italy
On November 7th ERIOs Executive Director Ivan Ivanov participated in the High Level Event on Non-Discrimination and Equality in Rome. The event was organized by The Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission. The main objective of the event was to stress the importance of Equality policies in the European Union. High Level Representatives of governments from the EU Member States and key stakeholders working on Equality issues were invited to discuss and identify current challenges and future paths to make Equality a reality for all. In his presentation Mr. Ivanov highlighted the need of cultural change for equality and diversity and combating stereotypes. He also stated that it is widely agreed that in order to make sustainable progress in improving the situation of Roma, it is necessary to take action to combat the dramatic levels of anti-Gypsyism across Europe in all segments of the European societies which is also continuously fuelled by the media and anti-Roma rhetoric of politicians and  public officials. Racist stereotypes too often serve to justify ongoing and past discrimination and inspire its continuation. Anti-Gypsyism also serves to obstruct the implementation of measures aimed at improving the situation of Roma. For example measures developed at national level often remain empty promises with local officials taking no action to implement these measures fearing the political costs of challenging the anti-Gypsy attitudes of local populations.
* Roma Demonstration in Rome
On November 6th a group of 20 Roma activists organized a demonstration in front of the building where the High Level Event on Non-Discrimination and Equality was taking place. The group comprised activists from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, Italy and France. The activists demonstrated against European institutions for not allowing them to participate in the meetings of the European Commission. On the morning of the event, the EC held a meeting with the National Contact Points, the people responsible for the coordination and implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies. In the afternoon a High Level Event on non-discrimination and equality was organized by the Italian EU Presidency and the EC. Representatives of the European Commission and the Italian institutions met with the Roma activist to discuss the issue. Roma were told that the meeting with the national contact points is a closed meeting and that the high level event is not for Roma. However, several Roma representatives were invited to participate in the event. Roma expressed their concerns that their voice is not being heard, that they are tired of listening to empty promises and that immediate action is needed to  change the Roma situation in Europe. Ms. Lina Papamichalopoulou, the Head of the non-discrimination and Roma coordination unit of DG Justice in the European Commission stated that all suggestions and recommendations of the Roma group will be taken into consideration and that they all are welcome to share their concerns and ideas at the European Roma Platform meeting with will take place in March 2015.

OTHER news

* Fundamental rights at the EU’s borders: FRA reports reveal challenges ahead
By European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

10/11/2014 - Two new reports by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) present the human rights situation at the EU’s air and land borders where asylum seekers as well as victims of trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation and for organ extraction may also first enter the EU.

The reports are based on research at five airports and six major land border crossing points, and demonstrate the potential for fundamental rights infringements at the EU’s borders. Together with FRA’s earlier report on fundamental rights at the EU’s southern sea borders, these studies describe the treatment of people entering the EU and make suggestions to improve respect for their human rights.

Read more here
* Recommendation on Roma youth of the Congress to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
By Alliance for Roma Inclusion, Congress of local and regional authorities, Council of Europe

"On behalf of Mr. Denis Huber, Head of Department for Cooperation, Administration and External Relations in the Congress of local and regional authorities, I would like to share with you the latest Recommendation on Roma youth of the Congress to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe [Recommendation 354 (2014)] and the corresponding answer.

As we are committed to the issue of Roma inclusion, everybody will see how Roma Youth is even more socially disadvantaged than Roma in general. The Congress has therefore adopted the above mentioned Recommendation in March 2014 to address this concern and propose relevant action to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe."

Please find this recommendation here

Now the Committee of Ministers, which is the Council of Europe’s decision-making body, responded to the Recommendation of the Congress by means of the attached document. Essentially these documents serve as an affirmation that the Council of Europe is aware of the importance of the Roma issue and will continue to devote necessary resources towards the goal of integrating Roma, as well as putting a special focus on Roma youth.

Read more here
* Spain’s oldest dictionary under fire for equating ‘gypsy’ with ‘cheat’.
By The Guardian

Roma group calls on Royal Spanish Academy to remove latest definition of the word, saying ‘language has consequences’
29/10/2014 - Spain’s oldest and most authoritative dictionary has prompted outrage by defining “gypsy” as “one who lies and cheats”. After 13 years spent updating entries, the Royal Spanish Academy unveiled its 23rd edition of the Spanish dictionary at a sombre ceremony presided by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, earlier this month.
The new edition removed a previous definition of “gitano” or “gypsy” as an adjective meaning “defrauding or operating with deception”. But it added a new secondary meaning, saying the word was synonymous with “trapacero” – an adjective meaning dishonest or swindling.

Arguing that the definition is obsolete and does little more than feed into prejudices, the Association of Feminist Gypsies for Diversity is taking action. They’re calling on Spaniards to support their call to remove the definition by uploading photos of themselves with messages for the Academy to the group’s Facebook page. “You can’t label an entire community, an entire culture, a whole population like this,” said member Maria José Jiménez Cortiñas. “The entry legitimises stereotypes. We’re asking that for once the Academy move ahead of society and eliminate definitions that serve only to marginalise our community.”

Read more here
* Czech Police say MP's remarks about concentration camp for Roma not criminal
By ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Prague, 13.11.2014 - Czech MP Tomio Okamura, the chair of the "Dawn of Direct Democracy" (Úsvit) movement, did not commit a crime when he made his recent statements about the former concentration camp for Roma at Lety by Písek. News server Romea.cz has received a notification from the Police of the Czech Republic to that effect.

This past summer, Okamura showed his contempt for the victims of the former concentration camp when, in a statement for the online political tabloid ParlamentniListy.cz, he spoke of it as lie and a myth. He claimed no one was ever killed in the camp and that any prisoners who died there did so as a result of old age or of diseases brought with them to the camp contracted as a result of their previously itinerant lifestyle.
On 2 September 2014, Čeněk Růžička, the chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu - VPORH), filed a criminal report against Okamura together with ROMEA, o.p.s., Miroslav Kováč of the Equal Opportunities Party, and Michal Miko of the Slovo 21 association over the remarks, which were made on the eve of Roma Genocide Remembrance Day.

Now, after an "assessment of the qualification" of the criminal report and an investigation, police have come to the conclusion that "facts were not obtained that would reasonably suggest a crime has been committed." "The police authority has, after securing the necessary written materials and examining them in detail, been satisfied that no infringement occurred as described by the notifiers in their submission. There is no doubt that the statement by Tomio Okamura is populist and historically worthless, but as the notifiers themselves state, some of his remarks were made on the basis of historically attested truths," reads the police statement.

Read more here
* DCLG forced to release Gypsy and Traveller group information
By Carl Brown

A ministerial working group on Gypsies and Travellers has not met since April 2012 and is not scheduled to meet in the future, the government has been forced to admit.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was ordered to publish information about the group, which is chaired by secretary of state for communities Eric Pickles, by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) last month. This followed allegations the department was ‘stonewalling’ about the progress of the group, which was set up to tackle inequalities faced by Gypsies and Travellers.

Charity Friends, Family and Travellers (FFT) submitted a request to DCLG under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking how many times the group has met since April 2012 and how often it is scheduled to meet in the next six months. The ministerial working group published a report in 2012 outlining 28 commitments to improve services for Gypsies and Travellers. FFT made the FOIA request because it was not convinced the group was meeting or doing any work to achieve these goals.

Read more here


* European Roma Information Office (ERIO) high level Conference with Local authorities, November 27 in Brussels
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend a conference with European local authorities which will be held on 27th November at the European Economic and Social Committee, room TRE 7701 (7th floor), 74 Rue de Trèves, 1040 Brussels from 09:30-17:00.
Roma in Europe continue to face constant discrimination. Segregation in education, poor housing, violence and forced evictions are some of the types of discrimination they face in their daily lives. As a way to improve the integration of the 10-12 million Roma across Europe, in 2011 the European Commission adopted an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. Following this Framework, member states committed themselves to ensure equality and improving the socio-economic situation of Roma by delivering their National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS). In December 2013, the Council recommendation on effective Roma integration measures was adopted. This contains a number of provisions which emphasise the necessity of Roma integration at the local level. It is clear that the challenge now falls upon national governments to involve local authorities in the implementation of the NRIS.
Against this backdrop, this European level conference will gather together representatives of local authorities from across Europe. It aims to provide a platform for discussion and exchange of information between the different local authorities in Europe concerning the NRIS and the implementation of the Racial Equality Directive (RED). Secondly, to facilitate the exchange of successful practices and identify the challenges faced by local/regional authorities in the NRIS and RED implementation and any potential solutions to overcome them.

The conference will be in English.

You can register by email or phone by giving your name, surname, title and the organisation you are working for.
The deadline for registrations is 24th November 2014.
For registration or any other queries, please contact: office@erionet.eu or Tel: +32 (2) 733 34 62
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