14 June 2017
Thematic Action Plan on the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers
(2016-2019) – Implementing the Action Plan
This report provides an overview of the state of implementation of the actions of the Thematic Action Plan on the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers (2016-2019), which the Ministers’ Deputies approved at their 1249th meeting (2-3 March 2016).
The Programme and Budget 2016-2017 puts particular emphasis on the Action Plan. Its full implementation depends on the mobilisation of extra-budgetary resources.
Priority 1: Tackling anti-Roma and anti-Traveller prejudice, discrimination and crimes (“anti-Gypsyism”)
Overall objective: To achieve the inclusion of Roma and Travellers in European societies as citizens with full rights and responsibilities
Specific objective 1.1 Strengthening the competence to fight against
On 25 May 2016, the Committee of Ministers authorised the establishment of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) in Berlin as a foundation. The object of the Institute is the promotion of arts and culture as a means to promote human rights and thereby to tackle anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Roma in Europe. Upon recommendation by the Berlin authorities to register ERIAC as a charitable association, revised draft statutes, prepared in co-operation with the other two founders, the Open Society Institute and the Alliance for ERIAC, were approved by the Committee of Ministers on 18 January 2017 at the 1275th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies. The constituent meeting of the ERIAC association took place in Berlin on 16 February 2017. The launch of ERIAC will take place in 2017.
Specific action, presented below, has been undertaken towards the integration of curricular elements on the history of Roma and Travellers in school, reaching Roma, Travellers and non-Roma pupils and students alike. These activities included the production of teaching material, the training of educational professionals and the promotion of the website devoted to the remembrance of Roma victims during WWII. It can also be noted that the Steering Committee for Education Policy and Practice plans to draft, in 2017, a policy recommendation on the teaching of remembrance of the Holocaust, which will take into account Roma and Travellers.
- An ERTF/IHRA/Council of Europe Conference "The Forgotten Voices", addressing anti-Gypsyism and recognition of the Roma Holocaust, took place in Bucharest, Romania, in April 2016. The Roma Support Team of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Roma Issues (“SRSG”), UNESCO, and the Georg Eckert Institute contributed to a study analysing references to Roma history, including the Roma Holocaust in the Second World War, in textbooks and school curricula in member States;
- Under the aegis of the Council of Europe Youth Department, the Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative was organised by the TernYpe International Roma Youth Network from 1 to 5 August 2016 in Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland. Around 380 young Roma and non-Roma from 14 countries attended educational workshops and activities, using the (Council of Europe) “Right to Remember” handbook for education with young people on the Roma Genocide ;
- The joint Council of Europe/ OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) website on Roma genocide has been updated. Council of Europe Roma history factsheets have been reprinted;
- European-wide online activities took place on the occasion of the International Roma Day (8 April) and the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day (2 August) in the framework of the No Hate Speech Movement (NHSM) campaign co-ordinated by the Council of Europe Youth Department. National-level educational and youth activities with a focus on Roma hate speech and the NHSM campaign were organised in Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania;
- A thematic visit by the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (CAHROM) on the teaching of Roma history at school is envisaged for 2018 with the Slovak Republic as possible host country.
Several activities focused on raising awareness against anti-Gypsyism, notably on the occasion of the commemoration of the Roma Holocaust:
- On 18 May 2016, the Assembly’s No Hate Parliamentary Alliance held a meeting in Stockholm specifically devoted to anti-Gypsyism. Opened by the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, the meeting included round-tables on anti-Gypsyism in politics, in public discourse and violent acts;
- The European Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day (2 August) was commemorated at the Council of Europe. The SRSG for Roma Issues established contacts with the European Parliament on how to support its 2015 Resolution to declare 2 August the “European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day”. An expert meeting on sharing member states' experience in recognising the Roma Holocaust at parliamentary and governmental levels is scheduled to take place in 2017;
- Roma Holocaust and remembrance will be on the agenda of the 13th meeting (31 May - 3 June 2017) of the CAHROM in Prague (Czech Republic);
- Training for journalists was organised in Donovaly, Slovak Republic, on 2-3 November 2016, by the SRSG Roma Support Team under the Dosta! campaign, in which 15 Slovak journalists/journalism students were trained on ethical non-prejudiced reporting on Roma. The Dosta! exhibition “Roma in France, the road to successful integration” was hosted by two different districts in Lyon (France);
- A child-friendly version of the Dosta! Campaign is planned for the 2018-2019 biennium.
Co-operation between the Council of Europe Dosta! campaign and the UEFA “Respect” campaign to stop anti-Gypsyism was established by the SRSG for Roma Issues. The campaign was endorsed by the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the First Vice-President of the European Commission, the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the Prime Minister and a number of ministers of the Romanian Government. Four major football games in the UEFA league opened with the DOSTA! campaign and were seen by a minimum of 11 million spectators. Based on this success possible ways forward are being explored for a larger campaign with UEFA, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission.
Specific Objective 1.2 Improving the access of Roma and Travellers to justice
The Council of Europe/European Commision (“CoE/CE”) Joint Programme on Roma and Traveller women's access to justice (JUSTROM) started on 1 October 2016 and aims at providing legal aid through the establishment of legal clinics, two per country, involving lawyers, paralegals and community mediators in 5 member States (Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Romania). Under the Council of Europe co-operation Programme in Albania, legal assistance was provided to the Albanian authorities on their draft housing law, in co-operation with UNDP and the European Commission.
In Bulgaria, in the framework of the Norway Grants Programme, the project on “Improving access to legal aid for vulnerable groups by means of piloting a hotline for primary legal aid and creation of regional consultation centres”, aims to develop and improve the system of provision of primary legal aid, orienting it towards the most marginalised and vulnerable social groups. Under this project, two new legal aid centres in Sliven and Vidin offered on the spot services in two of the largest Roma communities. The project has provided legal aid services to more than 10,000 individuals of all backgrounds throughout the country but also directly to Roma communities in Vidin and Sliven. As a result of the pilot services, the number of applications for legal representation has decreased by 18.3% compared to 2013 before the start of the project.
In Romania, in the framework of the Norway Grants Programme, one of the objectives of the project on "Improving access to justicean integrated approach with a focus on Roma and other vulnerable groups”-, is to pilot legal aid services in 5 legal assistance offices in Mures, Bihor, Dolj, Dambovita and Calarasi, in order to improve access to the legal aid services to vulnerable communities, including Roma.
Specific Objective 1.3 Developing the skills and knowledge of legal professionals and administrators
The activities carried out for the attention of legal professionals, in particular police officers and trainers, included training as well as the preparation of manuals/guides aimed at preventing discrimination against Roma.
In 2016, a total of 80 legal professionals from various member States, as well as 34 Polish and 24 Greek police officers were trained through activities run by the SRSG Roma Support Team. A training of trainers for lawyers session was organised in
co-operation with the HELP programme in Strasbourg on 26-28 September 2016, and five training sessions of lawyers were organised in JUSTROM countries Bulgaria, in Greece, in Ireland, in Italy and in Romania. Two trainings were organised for the police in Greece (Athens, 20-22 April 2016) and Poland (Wroclaw, 18-21 April 2016. In addition, the handbook for lawyers on Roma and Traveller-related ECtHR case law was translated into Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian.
A brainstorming seminar with Council of Europe trainers for the police recommended preparing a training manual and curriculum for the police on non-discrimination and managing diversity. Work has already started, based on replies to a needs assessment questionnaire addressed to member States. Another needs assessment for police training in Slovenia was conducted in February 2017. In 2017, under the JUSTROM joint programme, training of police trainers will be organised in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, and training of trainers for judges and prosecutors in Ireland and Italy, with a focus on non-discrimination and Roma/Travellers. In February 2017, a non-discrimination training for police officers took place in Spain.
On 19-20 May and 21-23 November 2016, the SRSG Roma Support Team organised training on non-discrimination with a focus on Roma for 40 staff of the juvenile prison of Bochinovtsi, Bulgaria, through a voluntary contribution from Finland. As a result of the good partnership established with the General Directorate of Execution of Sentences in Bulgaria, and upon their request, a similar training will be organised in the Burgas prison in February 2017, through a voluntary contribution from Germany.
In Romania, within the framework of the Norway Grants project “Strengthening the capacity of the pre-trial detention system to comply with international human rights instruments”, a guide on antidiscrimination for police officers working in pre-trial detention centres and a leaflet on antidiscrimination for persons deprived of their liberty in police detention centres were issued. The Guide and the leaflet have been translated into Romanian, Romani and other minority languages and have been disseminated in pre-trial detention centres. Other prison staff training is planned in Romania in 2017.
In Bulgaria, in the framework of the Norway Grants project “Human rights protection and further development of necessary skills and knowledge of police officers, especially those working in multi-ethnic environments, including Roma communities”, two workshops for police officers were held on 12-15 January 2016 in Sofia, where 70 police officers working in areas with high density of Roma population (along with representatives of the Roma community) learnt how to combat Roma stereotypes, how the stereotypes affect their work and how to put this knowledge into practice while interacting with Roma individuals and communities.
A seminar on the role of the police in combating discrimination was held in Strasbourg on 6-7 December 2016 to discuss lessons learnt and best practices on how the police can and should counter discrimination and hate crimes against specifically Roma, LGBTI and persons with disabilities.
Priority 2: Demonstrating innovative models for inclusive policies for the most vulnerable
Overall objective: To empower the most vulnerable among Roma and Travellers, and strengthen their protection against all forms of discrimination
Specific objective 2.1 Strengthening the self-organisation of young Roma and Travellers and their participation in society
In order to strengthen the development of democratic leadership of Roma and Travellers youth organisations and the emergence of Roma youth leaders (“Roma and Travellers Youth Academy”), a consultative meeting was held in November 2016 at the European Youth Centre in Budapest to draw up the concept of the Roma Youth Academy and to to identify partners interested in co-operating on the setting up of the Academy. A concept paper/feasibility study for the Roma Youth Academy is under preparation. The study should present an analysis of the possible needs, gaps and shortcomings in training and non-formal education provision in the field of Roma youth leadership and elaborate proposals on the desired role, output, and medium-term impact of the Academy.
In December 2016, a workshop on the political participation of Roma youth, was held in the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg, organised by the Forum of European Roma Young People. It brought together Roma youth to explore ways to increase active participation in public and political life through voter empowerment, mobilisation and advocacy.
Furthermore, the Council of Europe Youth Department conducted a number of local and national activities, presented below, regarding the development of the participation of Roma youth. In this context, the Council of Europe publication “Mirrors” was disseminated to train young people to use it as a tool, during which the need became evident to have the manual translated into other languages.
- A national training seminar was held in Odessa (Ukraine; 3-7 November 2016) to support the mobilisation and participation of Roma youth and to analyse opportunities for mainstreaming Roma youth issues into Ukrainian youth policy at national and local level.
- In parallel, a training course on combating anti-Gypsyism through human rights education and youth participation was also held in Odessa for 22 youth leaders from Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, to assist members of youth organisations interested in working on Roma issues in appropriately responding to anti-Gypsyism in their respective regions.
- A regional training course was held in Ukraine (4-7 November 2016) with 25 youth leaders/activists working with Roma youth in Estonia, the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation.
- A national training course was held in Athens (16-17 November 2016) on combating anti-Gypsyism through human rights education. The 23 participants prepared project proposals for the Greek context.
- A regional training course was also held in Greece (16-19 November 2016) with 18 youth leaders/activists working with Roma youth in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Turkey.
- "Khetane Kadima" – a study session (20-26 November 2016, European Youth Centre, Budapest) on combating anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsyism, organised by the European Union of Jewish Students and Phiren Amenca International Roma and non-Roma network in co-operation with the Youth Department aimed at raising awareness and increasing solidarity and co-operation in combating discrimination, especially anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsyism.
The CAHROM thematic visits in Greece and Ireland on Roma participation in advisory and decision-making bodies examined in particular the involvement and representation of Roma and Traveller youth.
In light of the action plan, peer-to-peer training of teachers on inclusive education for Roma and Travellers pupils were proposed to member States. Under the REST project, teachers and school directors from 3 schools (Presov, Humenne and Sabinov) in the Slovak Republic followed a peer-to-peer teacher training course on inclusive education, including exchange visits with Babington College (Leicester, United Kingdom). The SRSG Roma Support Team in co-operation with REST and the Czech NGO “Prameni” supported the production of the movie “Europe: Which Children Matter?”, covering Roma children's experience in the Czech school systems and in the United Kingdom, promoting the inclusive education of Roma children in Europe.
In October 2016, the European Steering Committee on Youth (CDEJ) awarded the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres to the “International Youth Centre for children and youth at risk, Stara Zagora (Bulgaria)”. The Centre was commended for its excellent grass-roots youth work with Roma young people.
Specific objective 2.2 Better protecting the rights of Roma and Travellers children
A CAHROM thematic visit was conducted in Hungary to discuss testing systems and diagnoses for the enrolment of Roma children in schools. It involved, inter alia, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The thematic report will be discussed at the 13th CAHROM plenary meeting in Prague (31 May-June 2017).
In its country evaluation reports, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) pays particular attention to the prevention of trafficking in human beings among Roma children, including steps taken to ensure schooling, access to health-care, registration at birth, the availability of centres for children in street situations, and the work of community health mediators. GRETA's 6th General Activity Report focuses on child trafficking and also covers the issue of trafficking of Roma children.
In 2016, the CAHROM examined the draft report on addressing and combating human trafficking within Roma communities with a focus on street children and prostitution. The final report will be endorsed by the CAHROM in 2017.
Specific objective 2.3 Empowering Roma and Traveller women and promoting gender equality
The CoE/EC Joint Programme on Roma and Traveller women's access to justice (JUSTROM), managed by the SRSG Roma Support Team, started on 1 October 2016 and was launched in the five participating member states (Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Romania), followed by five training sessions for lawyers on non-discrimination and gender equality. The regional conference “Strengthening judicial capacity to improve women’s access to justice” (Chisinau, 24-25 October 2016), organised by the Gender Equality Unit within the project “Improving women’s access to justice in five Eastern partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine)”, included a session on “Access to Justice for Women Confronted with Multiple and Intersectional Discrimination: The Case of Legal Aid Centres and Roma Communities in Bulgaria and Romania”.
A first preparatory meeting for the 6th International Roma and Traveller Women's Conference took place in Strasbourg (25-26 September 2016) with Roma women’s networks, and identified Roma women’s political participation as the main topic for the Conference. Romania confirmed its willingness to host the Conference in Bucharest in September 2017 within the premises of the Romanian Parliament. The newly established IRWN-Phenjalipe Roma women’s network received training from various Council of Europe sectors (Strasbourg, 14-15 June) and was assisted in its registration process, thanks to a voluntary contribution from Finland.
In 2016, the CAHROM endorsed its thematic report on child/early and forced marriages within Roma communities. It also contributed to the work of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) which is preparing a draft Guide to good and promising practices aimed at combating and preventing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. A report on forced marriages in Europe, including on forced marriages in Roma and Traveller communities, is under preparation by the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. The report is expected to be finalised in 2018.
In December 2016, through the voluntary contributions from Finland and Germany, the SRSG Roma Support Team organised an international seminar in Strasbourg on forms of violence against Roma and Traveller women with a focus on child/early and forced marriages, human trafficking, and domestic violence with the participation of all relevant Council of Europe entities (the Parliamentary Assembly, GRETA, the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), the Lanzarote Committee, the Gender Equality Unit, the Children's Rights Division, the Youth Department)).
Priority 3: Promoting innovative models for local-level solutions
Overall objective: To enable local and regional authorities to address discrimination more effectively and develop successful strategies for the full inclusion of Roma and Travellers in society
Specific objective 3.1 Supporting the participation of Roma and Travellers in local decision-making
Following the positive results of the external evaluation of the ROMED programme, two new joint programmes were initiated with the European Commission:
- “ROMACTED”, based on the methodologies of the ROMED and ROMACT programmes, to be implemented in the Westerns Balkans and Turkey for 36 months, was officially launched on 1 May 2017.
- The programme “Inclusive Schools, Making a difference for Roma Children”.will focus on education and propose solutions to the local realities - segregation, quality education, school governance, and the benefits of non-formal education - during a period of 20 months; will be signed with the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) in May or June 2017.
Specific objective 3.2 Strengthening the capacity of local and regional authorities to develop and implement plans, strategies and services for the inclusion of Roma and Travellers
The EC/CoE Joint Programme “ROMACT” started in 2013 and is currently being implemented in 57 municipalities in 6 member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Slovak Republic). A total of 100 municipalities have been targeted by the programme which follows a 4-step methodology requiring a 20-22 month process. To date, approximately 400,000 Roma citizens have benefited directly or indirectly from ROMACT activities, 75 Community Action Groups (CAGs) have been established in Roma communities, the priorities of Roma communities have been included in the Action Plans and Strategies of the municipalities, and short, medium and long-term actions have been planned, budgeted and implemented. A new transnational component has been introduced in ROMACT: 22 municipalities have applied, of which 17 have been awarded with one or more of the 3 modules proposed: transnational visits, mediation training and intercultural training. In co-operation with the European Commission (DG EMPL), "ROMACT" will be extended to additional member states and/or municipalities in 2017.
A joint statement on evictions of Roma and Travellers, co-ordinated by the SRSG Roma Support Team, was adopted on 29 June 2016 by the Operational Platform for Roma Equality (OPRE), signed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the European Network of European National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet), and the Council of Europe. The statement was circulated to Albanian, French and Ukrainian local authorities prior to planned evictions of Roma, to draw attention to international human rights standards.
A new SRSG for Roma Issues took up his functions on 1 September 2016. Two young professionals of Roma origin were recruited to the SRSG Roma Support Team in 2016 on temporary contracts linked to CoE/EC Joint Programmes.
On 27 January 2017, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 2153 (2017) on “Promoting the inclusion of Roma and Travellers”.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) covers Roma issues in its country reports and interim follow-up conclusions as part of its fifth cycle country monitoring work. ECRI has actively contributed to the work of the SRSG on Roma Issues and has been represented in the CAHROM.
In its Opinions on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), the Advisory Committee has frequently advocated the inclusion of Roma and Travellers.
This aspect is also covered by the evaluation reports adopted by the Committee of Experts (COMEX) in respect to those countries which have ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) and have included Roma as a protected minority group from the language perspective.
Roma rapporteurs have been appointed in intergovernmental committees. The CDDH appointed its expert from “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“ as Roma Rapporteur, with the task, notably, of representing the CDDH in the meetings of the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (CAHROM). Since then, the Roma Rapporteur has actively participated in relevant events and meetings and regularly informs the CDDH of developments in this field. In turn, the Legal Adviser of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) regularly participates in CDDH meetings and he introduces the perspective of Roma and Travellers in the discussions related to forced marriage, social rights, freedom of expression, migration and Human Rights defenders. The Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF) appointed two Roma rapporteurs to help mainstream Roma children's rights in the Committee's work. At its 34th meeting, March 2016, the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) appointed the representative of the Slovak Republic as Roma Rapporteur.
The CAHROM enhanced its co-operation with other Council of Europe bodies and international organisations: it commented on the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities’ Recommendation (2016)388 on the situation of Roma and Travellers in the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis in Europe. The CAHROM Chair attended the Conference on the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child in Sofia, Bulgaria (April 2016), and the Conference on Children's Rights in Estonia (November 2016). The CAHROM Rapporteur on Roma Youth attended the coordination meetings on the Roma Youth Action Plan. Representatives of several DGs of the European Commission, FRA, OSCE/ODIHR, and various UN agencies attended the two CAHROM plenary meetings in 2016. Several CAHROM members, including the Chair, attended the OSCE/ODIHR/CoE Conference on Anti-Gypsyism (Berlin, 6 September 2016).
Two meetings of the new Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller NGOs were organised in June and November 2016, respectively; the first with the presence of representatives of Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms and the Parliamentary Assembly, and the second jointly with the CAHROM. Topics of the June meeting included hate speech, forced evictions and internal and
cross-border migration, whilst the November meeting focused on Roma youth and on the travelling way of life.
In 2016, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation 388 (2016) on the situation of Roma and Travellers in the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis in Europe. In 2017, the Congress adopted Resolution 415 (2017) “Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society (Revised)”. The revised Charter contains a reference to anti-Gypsyism as a specific form of racism and stressing the need to fight anti-Gypsyism at local level. A “Declaration of Mayors and Elected Local and Regional Representatives of Council of Europe Member States against
anti-Gypsyism” presented by Mr John Warmisham, Congress Spokesperson for Roma Issues was endorsed.
On 21 March 2016, the Congress Bureau adopted a revised version of the Strategic Guidelines for the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma and Traveller Inclusion. This document serves as a programmatic outline of the work of the Alliance, emphasising its role as a platform for exchanges between participating local and regional authorities. The revised Guidelines also clarify the obligations of Alliance participants, namely to uphold the human rights and good governance standards of the Council of Europe, to refrain from hate speech against Roma and Travellers, to end school segregation, and to refrain from forced evictions that lead to the loss of shelter for Roma and Traveller families.
The Alliance supported a first consultation meeting of ten municipalities which intend to form a follow-up structure to the ROMED Programme in Ukraine. Since summer 2016, and in co-operation with the Local Democracy Division, the Alliance has focused its activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the political inclusion and participation of Roma and has organised four workshops in co-operation with the Division on Electoral Assistance. During the local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 October 2016, 10 of the 20 Roma who had participated in that workshop were elected into councillor positions. In December 2016, a follow-up workshop was organised for the elected councillors to build long-term capacity and to help them use their term of office as effectively as possible.
In the Czech Republic, the Alliance organised, in co-operation with the Community Action Groups (CAGs) of the EC/CoE JP “ROMACT”, meetings and events around Christmas 2016 where the majority population could meet Roma individuals and communities in a casual or festive context. The events were well received by the population.