During 2010, the European public saw for the first time the reality of life for Roma as television bulletins showed families awaiting expulsion from Western Europe back to their countries of origin. A community that had been invisible were suddenly in the public eye, with the reality of their condition plain for all to see.
Some 10 - 12 million Roma people are estimated to live in Europe, present in each country. They are amongst the most deprived of all communities, facing daily discrimination and racial insults, living in extreme poverty and exclusion from the normal life that other people take for granted – going to school, seeing the doctor, applying for a job or having decent housing. Past efforts to help them have not brought the hoped-for results, and although laws do exist in Europe, they all too often fail to make an impact on the daily lives of Roma families.
The events of 2010 prompted Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland to propose a fresh approach, calling together all those involved – governments, the European Union and the Roma themselves - in a High Level Meeting. It resulted in a joint pledge to cooperate on Roma issues and practical, easy to implement schemes which involve Roma communities in building a better future.
The Committee of experts on Roma issues (CAHROM) holds its 5th meeting in Strasbourg on 14-16 May 2013
Strasbourg, 13 April 2013 – The Committee of experts on Roma issues (CAHROM) will hold its 5th meeting in Strasbourg on 14-16 May 2013. Thirty nine member states will be represented, as well as observers, including various representatives of the European Commission, FRA, OSCE-ODIHR, UNHCR, OHCHR, World Bank, Amnesty International , ERTF and the Holy Sea. The agenda includes the presentation of two new thematic reports, namely on encampment sites for Travellers and other related issues (with Belgium as a requesting country and France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom as partner countries) and on school attendance of Roma children with a specific focus on Roma girls (with Finland as a requesting country and Latvia, Norway and Sweden as partner countries).
The Committee will also exchange views with various Council of Europe bodies (CEB, GRETA, Lanzarote Committee, Gender Equality, Domestic violence and violence against women Division, ECRI, Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities, European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Committee on Social Rights). Other issues to be addressed at this meeting includes the proposal to establish a European Commemoration Day for the genocide of Roma and Sinti during WWII, preschool and other education related issues, legalisation of Roma settlements and houses, Roma refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and stateless children, Roma women and youth activities, as well as recent developments concerning the adoption of national inclusion strategies for Roma and recent launches of the Dosta! campaign.
CAHROM thematic group visits Albania on 15-17 April 2013
Strasbourg, 11 April 2013 – A CAHROM thematic group composed of experts from Albania (requesting country) and Bosnia and Herzegovina and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (partner countries) will visit Albania on 15-17 April 2013 to exchange experience in the field of legalization of Roma settlements and houses. The OSCE-ODIHR through its project “Best Practices for Roma Integration (BPRI)”, funded by the EU and participating States, has ensured the participation in this thematic group of an additional expert of Roma origin from the three participating countries. The agenda of the visit will include a round table with various stakeholders, including state officials, NGOs and international organisations present in Albania, such as UNDP and OSCE, as well as bilateral meetings with the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunies/Technical Secretariat for Roma (organiser of the thematic visit), the Ministry of Transport, the Ombudsman and the Municipality of Tirana. The group of experts will also visit the Roma settlements of Shkoza and Bregu I Limit. A preliminary discussion about the outcome and main conclusions of the thematic visit will be held at the 5th CAHROM plenary meeting (Strasbourg, 14-16 May 2013). The experts’ thematic report will be presented to the Committee for endorsement at the 6th CAHROM plenary meeting (Rome, Italy, 28-31 October 2013).The already endorsed CAHROM thematic reports are available on the CAHROM website.
CAHROM thematic visit to Belgium on halting sites for Travellers and nomadic Roma and other related issues
Strasbourg, 13 February 2013 – A CAHROM thematic group composed of experts from Belgium (requesting country) and France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (partner countries) will visit Belgium on 20-22 February 2013 to exchange experience in the field of halting sites (provision of sites and infrastructure, dealing with unauthorised sites, recognition of caravans as a home, relations between travelling communities and the settled population, etc.) and other issues relevant for Travellers and (semi-) nomadic Roma, Sinti and Yenish communities. The countries involved will also consider issues such as access to health, education and other services. The agenda of the visit will include a meeting with various federal, regional and local authorities, as well as meetings with Travellers and Roma communities on sites in both Flandres and Wallonia. The experts’ thematic report will be presented at the 5th CAHROM plenary meeting (Strasbourg, 14-16 May 2013).The already endorsed CAHROM thematic reports are available on the CAHROM website.
Congress of Roma mediators from the Council of Europe/European Commission ROMED programme
Brussels, 17-18 January 2013 – A Congress of Roma mediators from the Council of Europe/European Commission ROMED programme will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. As well as Roma mediators and trainers from several different countries, participants at the event will include EU Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General for Roma issues, Jeroen Schokkenbroek. The Council of Europe Secretary General will be addressing the participants through a video message, which will be available on line on 17th January 2013. Several European Union and Council of Europe officials will be present and other INGOs and organisations like Open Society Foundations, Roma Education Fund, UNESCO, OSCE/ODIHR to listen to and support the more than 250 Roma and Travellers from the 20 countries participating in the Programme.Programme
4th meeting of CAHROM
Strasbourg, 22 November 2012 – The Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM) will hold its 4th meeting in Strasbourg on 28-30 November 2012. It will discuss two new thematic reports on social housing for Roma (with “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” as a requesting country and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Spain as partner countries) and on inclusive education as opposed to special schools (with the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic as requesting countries and Hungary, Slovenia and the United Kingdom as partner countries). Other items on the agenda include trafficking in human beings, empowerment of Roma women and youth, bilateral cooperation in the field of migration, freedom of movement, school drop-outs/absenteeism of Roma children and the role of local and regional authorities in implementing Roma inclusion policies. Exchanges of views will take place with the Commissioner for Human Rights, GRETA and the Children’s Rights transversal project, as well with various representatives of the European Commission and the ERTF. Recent developments regarding various Council of Europe initiatives and projects (including ROMED, the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma inclusion and the Dosta! campaign) will be presented.
The agenda and working documents are available at http://a.cs.coe.int/team20/cahrom/4th%20CAHROM%20plenary%20meeting/Forms/AllItems.aspx
European Alliance promises grassroots boost for Roma inclusion
Representatives from Europe’s cities and regions gather in Strasbourg on September 25th as they continue work to build a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion.
An initiative of the first ever Summit of Mayors on Roma, organised in September last year by the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe with the support of the Special Representative of Secretary General for Roma issues (Mr Jeroen Schokkenbroek), the Alliance has so far been backed by around one hundred municipalities and regions.
Its mission – which will be presented during the September 25th meeting – is to provide a hub for grassroots work on the Roma, allowing its members to share good practice, find joint solutions to common problems, seek funding opportunities, and replicate successful projects in their own constituency. Working methods are expected to include training sessions, workshops, twinning, study visits and day to day contacts between Alliance members, allowing positive developments in local strategies and improved capacity building of local and regional authorities throughout Europe.
Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopts CM Recommendation (2012)9 on mediation as an effective tool for promoting respect for human rights and social inclusion of Roma
Strasbourg, 14 September 2012 - The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers by adopting on 12 September CM Recommendation (2012)9 on mediation as an effective tool for promoting respect for human rights and social inclusion of Roma called on member governments to draw on the positive experience of the ROMED training programme by setting-up their own effective system of quality mediation with Roma communities. The Recommendation stresses the benefits of mediation in terms of Roma access to health, housing, education and jobs. The CM welcomed the fact that such mediation is being practiced more widely and becoming an explicit part of national strategies and action plans for Roma inclusion. The Recommendation mentions key principles for making mediation effective and asks member states to recognise officially the profession of mediator.
Roma mediators video
Council of Europe Committee of Ministers takes note of the Abridged Report of the 3rd CAHROM meeting (Skopje and Ohrid, 22-25 May 2012), as well as of the two first CAHROM thematic reports
Strasbourg, 14 September 2012 - The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers took note on 12 September of the Abridged Report of the 3rd CAHROM meeting (Skopje and Ohrid, 22-25 May 2012), as well as of the two first CAHROM thematic reports – resulting from exchange of experience between member states - on school drop-outs/absenteeism of Roma children and on the role of state, local and regional authorities in implementing national policies/action plans for Roma respectively. New thematic reports on social housing for Roma, inclusive education as opposed to special schools and on school drop-outs/absenteeism of Roma girls will be presented at the 4th CAHROM meeting in Strasbourg on 28-30 November. Other agenda items will include trafficking in human beings, bilateral cooperation in the field of Roma migration, freedom of movement and gender aspects.
The reports are available on CAHROM website
3rd CAHROM meeting in Skopje and Ohrid from 22 to 25 May 2012
The 3rd CAHROM meeting, preceded by a joint meeting on social housing for Roma with participants of the Decade for Roma Inclusion took place in Skopje and Ohrid, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", from 22 to 25 May with over 60 participants. It was followed by a field visit to Shuto Orizari municipality in Skopje. The meeting abridged report
Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner deeply concerned at recent Roma treatment in Baia Mare (Romania)
Commissioner Muižnieks expressed today his deep concern about the evictions of more than 300 Roma families and their relocation to buildings formerly owned by a disused chemical factory in the Romanian city of Baia Mare. (more...)
Ending school segregation of Roma children a priority for Council of Europe
At its meeting of 22-25 May 2012, the CoE Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM) exchanged views on the problem of segregation of Roma children in education and agreed that this should be a priority in its future thematic work. This will be pursued at the next CAHROM meeting (28-30 November 2012). In a separate development, the Committee of Ministers on 6 June 2012 examined the state of execution of the leading judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in this field (D.H. v. Czech Republic). Its decisions, among other things, stress the importance of accelerating implementation of the judgment which has been final for almost 5 years, in order to achieve concrete progress on the ground.
Decision of the Committee of Ministers
PACE Committee approves report: Roma face ‘double stigmatisation’ when they are on the move - Strasbourg, 1 June 2012
Roma face “double stigmatisation” when they are on the move, firstly as a persecuted and victimised minority and secondly as migrants, according to PACE’s Migration Committee. (more...)
Conference The Roma between Past and Future - Amsterdam, 6 May 2012
2012 European Civil Rights Prize
The 2012 European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma was awarded to Thomas Hammarberg, the current Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. The award ceremony took place in Berlin on 3 April 2012More information
Commissioner Hammarberg publishes a Europe-wide overview of the Human Rights situation of Roma
A Europe-wide overview of the Human Rights situation of Roma is provided by the newly published report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg. The full text of the report is available.
2011 saw a renewed focus on issues concerning Roma issues at the Council of Europe with the creation of a dedicated transversal team led by Jeroen Schokkenbroek, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma issues. This structure acts as a hub bringing together the different projects on Roma being undertaken at the Council of Europe following the high level meeting on Roma. It also builds on the work carried out and results achieved by the Council of Europe in this field, in particular over the past 15 years.
Developing a network of mediators: Mediators build a bridge between Roma communities and the outside world. Their job is to act as “ambassadors of trust” between Roma communities and local public insitutions – for example, getting Roma children into local schools, making sure that families get proper health care, helping Roma secure decent housing and find jobs that will bring them out of long term unemployment and back into salaried work.
Council of Europe experts will travel to 15 countries this year to work with specialised trainers and equip the mediators with the additional skills they need to gain full confidence of local public insitutions and the Roma community. After the training, the mediators will immediately start putting into practice what they have learned. Progress. will be assessed at a later training session.
The countries so far involved are: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey and Ukraine, with others to follow.
Harvesting and sharing tactics that work: Work has begun on a database where national and local authorities, along with NGOs or anyone working with the Roma, can find the best practices so far in use. The idea is to build a pool of projects and policies that work and that can be adapted for use in different countries and contexts, creating a momentum for continual positive change throughout Europe. In addition, a new committee has been set up – the CAHROM – to bring together government experts at the highest level to exchange experiences and share lessons learnt.
Building confidence in what already works: The Council of Europe has always played a role in setting standards and judgments from the Court of Human Rights have helped make advances in Roma rights. Very often, though, the Roma have difficulties in defending their rights at national level, using the courts. The Council of Europe is now carrying out training sessions for lawyers, reinforcing their skills in this specialised area.
Campaigning to overcome prejudice – Dosta!: Dosta means enough in the Romani language, and is the slogan of the Council of Europe’s campaign to change attitudes and get people to discover the true potential of the Roma people. It was launched in Greece in 2011 and will be taken up in Spain, Turkey and Kosovo(1) during the year.
Building from the grassroots: Most of the problems faced by Roma are at the local or regional level and it is there that solutions can and should be found. This is why the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has pledged its backing with plans for a dedicated network of these authorities from all over Europe. A first summit of mayors on Roma issues is scheduled to be held on September 22 in Strasbourg.
(1) All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo
Le terme « Roms » utilisé au Conseil de l’Europe désigne les Roms, les Sintés (Manouches), les Kalés (Gitans) et les groupes de population apparentés en Europe, dont les Voyageurs et les branches orientales (Doms, Loms) ; il englobe la grande diversité des groupes concernés, y compris les personnes qui s’auto-identifient comme « Tsiganes » et celles que l’on désigne comme « Gens du voyage » :
Public knowledge about the history and culture of Roma is still marginal among ordinary people. National governments and international organisations are trying to overcome segregation, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Roma and to integrate them into society. One of the keys for integration is education of both Roma and non-Roma. An integral part of this educational process is mutual knowledge about the common history and culture of Roma and non-Roma in Europe.