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Ref. CG-030 (2016)

Combating anti Gypsyism: Congress calls for better access to social rights and legislative measures

Strasbourg, 20 October 2016 – At their 31st Session in Strasbourg, France, the members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities examined, on 20 October 2016, a report on the situation of Roma and Travellers, presented by John Warmisham (United Kingdom, SOC) and highlighting the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis, which is worsening discrimination against them and stirring anti-Gypsyism.

« Anti-Gypsyism is the one of the most disruptive reasons that hinder the improvement of the situation of Roma and Travellers in Europe. When a mayor does not want to access funds for the improvement of roads or sanitation systems in a Roma neighbourhood because of fear he or she might not be re-elected: that is anti-Gypsyism. Or when authorities do not make an effort to register newborn babies, who then grow up without identification documents and never can register for education, social welfare, employment assistance, this is structural discrimination and another form of anti-Gypsyism,” explained John Warmisham insisting on the importance of a real awareness of the seriousness of the situation at European level.

The Congress reminded local and regional authorities of their responsibility to create the conditions for access to economic and social rights for Roma and Travellers in the fields falling within their competence, including education, housing and health.  Combating anti-Gypsyism entails condemning hate speech, training administrative staff and launching educational and intercultural initiatives.  The Congress is also encouraging exchanges of experience, particularly through the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers.

At national level, the Congress recommendation stresses the need to adopt anti-discrimination policies to ensure that Roma and Travellers enjoy legal and social equality. It calls on the governments to develop the legislative framework to overcome institutional anti-Gypsyism and its manifestations, such as segregation (spatial or in schools) and forced evictions.  Finally, there must be legal remedies granting victims of anti-Gypsyism satisfaction and compensation and deterring potential perpetrators from discriminatory acts.

The debate was held with the participation of Valeriu Nicolae, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma issues, and Laura Bosnea, Councillor of the City of Riscani, Moldova.

Report CPL31(2016)03

Presentation by John Warmisham

File ''31st Session''

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The Congress has two chambers, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. It brings together 324 full and 324 substitute members representing more than 200 000 European territorial communities.
President of the Congress:
Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC), President of the Chamber of Local Authorities: Anders Knape (Sweden, EPP/CCE), President of the Chamber of Regions: Gunn Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP-CCE)
Political Groups: Socialist Group (SOC), Group of the European People’s Party (EPP/CCE), Independent and Liberal Democrat Group (ILDG), European Conservatives & Reformists Group  (ECR)