Strasbourg, 16 May 2014
AD HOC COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS ON ROMA ISSUES
7th CAHROM MEETING
Strasbourg, Council of Europe
14-16 May 2014
1. The Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM) held its 7th meeting in Strasbourg, on 14-16 May 2014. The agenda as adopted appears in Appendix 1.
Opening of the 7th CAHROM meeting
2. The Chair of the Committee welcomed participants, in particular new CAHROM members, as well as representatives from international organisations (European Commission, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, IOM, UNHCR, UNDP, Amnesty International, ERTF, and OSF) and invited guests and various Council of Europe sectors.
Recent developments at international level
3. The Committee heard a number of presentations on Roma-related developments at international level:
· The Head of the Support Team of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma issues
o Informed the Committee about internal changes as regards the post of Special Representative of the Secretary General, the establishment of two units within the Support Team and the departure and arrival of new colleagues and presented the new organogram of the SRSG Roma Support Team;
o Referred to activities that took place since the last CAHROM meeting in Rome, end of October 2013, including the organisation of two thematic visits (on housing issues in Serbia in November 2013 and on the legal status and identity documents of Roma from ex-Yugoslavia in Italy in April 2014), the signature of new ROMED2/ROMACT joint programmes with the European Commission, Roma women’s meetings in the Republic of Moldova, Portugal and Turkey as a follow-up to the Helsinki Conference, etc.
o Announced that the Dosta! exhibition about portraits/testimonials of integrated Roma in France is outside the meeting room and that a brainstorming on the Dosta! campaign: the way forward will take place on Friday afternoon;
o Informed the Committee about the OSF and Secretary General of the Council of Europe’s initiative to set up a European Roma Institute (ERI) and about current developments at the level of the Council of Europe regarding this initiative, namely the start of consultations between the Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General and Permanent Representations on 22 May 2014 on the basis of a paper presenting the ERI proposal;
o The decision of the GR-SOC on 24 April 2014 to discontinue the work on the draft CM Declaration on the genocide of Roma during the Second World War.
· The representative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe informed the Committee about recent developments concerning the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion. He indicated that so far 122 cities and regions have joined the Alliance and that the Congress is currently drafting a concept paper to clarify the Alliance’s future work, functioning and future activities. In addition, he informed the Committee about the recent signature of a partnership agreement between the Congress and ERTF.
· The representative of Open Society Foundations informed the Committee about recent developments at the level of OSF. He also informed the Committee about OSF initiative to set up a European Roma Institute (ERI) and provided general information about the type of areas that this Institute could cover (promotion and raising awareness about Romani culture, language, history, and promotion of a better image of Roma). He also called on member states to support the establishment of this Institute.
· The FRA representative updated the CAHROM on FRA work for Roma inclusion, including about the setting up of indicators to monitor the implementation of national Roma inclusion strategies, and about the LERI project.
· The representative of the ESF Managing Authority of the Spanish Government presented to the Committee the work of the EU Roma network on social inclusion and Roma under European Structural Funds, an initiative launched by the Spanish Government (ESF MA) and the Fundación Secretariado Gitano in 2007 and in which 12 EU member states participate.
4. In the discussion that followed these presentations, the Chair noted the Committee’s regrets that it had not been possible to reach consensus on the draft CM Declaration on the genocide of Roma during the Second World War as we approach the 70th anniversaries of the terrible events of August 1944 and of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945.
Joint cooperation and synergies between the recent developments at international level
5. Following a presentation from DG Justice of the European Commission, the Committee discussed possibilities to increase cooperation and synergies between the work of CAHROM and the National Roma Contact Points at the EU level. The Chair recalled that this topic has been addressed at the last NRCP meeting in Brussels and that discussion will be pursued at the next NRCP meeting to be organised early November in Rome under the Italian EU presidency. The Committee welcomed the fact that the CAHROM Secretariat will be invited to join the discussion. Some preliminary proposals for stronger cooperation and synergies to avoid duplication have been identified, including the following:
o A more regular sharing of information between CAHROM and NRCP, including by arranging a first management meeting on this cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Commission before the next CAHROM meeting;
o Council of Europe contribution to identify indicators to monitor the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies;
o The participation of the EC in the work of CAHROM and the participation of CAHROM Secretariat at NRCP meetings;
o The inclusion of good practices identified by the EC and NRCP in the online database on Roma-related policies and good practices;
o Some of the proposals of thematic groups made in CAHROM could be taken up by NRCP when they specifically address EU legal and financial framework;
o Others (like a thematic group on mediation) could be organised jointly under the ROMED2 programme.
6. The Committee heard presentations from the representative of DG EMPL of the European Commission and the Head of the Strategic Partnerships Unit of the SRSG Roma Support Team about developments concerning the joint ROMED2 and ROMACT programmes, as well as a brief assessment of the implementation of these programmes at national and local levels by the National ROMED2/ROMACT Project Officer in Romania.
Recent developments at national level
7. The Committee took note of written information about recent developments at national level submitted by Albania, Latvia, Norway and Sweden. The Committee accepted the Swedish proposal to include on the agenda of its next meeting in Sarajevo a presentation of the White Paper on abuses and rights violations of Roma during the twentieth century and the work of the Commission against anti-Gypsyism recently set up under the direction of former Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Thomas Hammarberg.
8. The Chair expressed the Committee’s appreciation for all these presentations and encouraged members and observers of CAHROM to submit any further information in writing.
Roma women, including early marriages
9. The Committee took note of the replies received from six member states to the questionnaire on early/forced marriages in relation to human trafficking” and of recent developments regarding early or forced marriages in member states. It also heard the presentation of a joint opinion paper on early marriage in Roma communities prepared by ERTF and Phenjalipe Roma women’s informal network. It proceeded with an exchange of views with the Secretariat of GRETA and took note of GRETA’s intention to include in its questionnaire for its 2nd monitoring cycle questions about early marriages and begging in relation to trafficking.
10. The Committee took note of the presentations by Finland CAHROM member of the main conclusions of the report of the 4th International Roma Women’s Conference held in Helsinki on 16-17 September 2013 and by Phenjalipe representative of the Strategy for the Advancement of Romani Women and Girls (2014-2020).
11. The Committee agreed to pursue at its next meeting its reflection on how the Helsinki Conference conclusions and the Strategy for the Advancement of Romani Women and Girls could be taken into account within the work of the CAHROM and at national level. The Committee was requested to examine ways to increase awareness about the Roma women’s strategy at national level. The Committee agreed to keep on the agenda of its next meeting forced and early marriages in relation to human trafficking. The Chair encouraged other member states to provide replies to the questionnaire which will be recirculated.
12. The Committee took note of the setting up of a CAHROM thematic group on Roma women empowerment and gender dimension of Roma inclusion policies proposed by Lithuania and of the CAHROM thematic visit to Vilnius on 4-6 June 2014 with partner countries’ experts from Finland, Italy, Republic of Moldova and Spain. This thematic report will be presented for endorsement at the next CAHROM meeting. The Chair encouraged CAHROM members to contact the Secretariat in case they are willing to participate in a thematic group addressing early and/or forced marriage of Roma teenagers.
13. The Committee heard a presentation of the CAHROM thematic report on legalisation of Roma informal settlements, social housing and alternatives to (forced) evictions from Serbia CAHROM member (requesting and hosting country of a thematic visit), from the Slovak Republic and Spain (partner countries) and from the Secretariat.
14. The Committee noted that the thematic report due to its late circulation by the Secretariat had not yet been finalised and translated into French and therefore agreed that it will be endorsed by written procedure so as to be circulated for information to the GR-SOC together with the abridged report of the 7th CAHROM meeting. The Committee gave as a deadline end of May 2014 to the Secretariat and the group of experts to finalise the document in both languages.
15. The Committee heard a presentation from Albania CAHROM member about developments as regards the housing situation of Roma since the CAHROM thematic visit to Tirana in April 2013 and the endorsement by the CAHROM of the report on social housing for Roma and legalisation of Roma settlements/houses in October 2013.
Database on policies and good practices
16. The Committee heard the Secretariat’s presentation about the online database of Roma-related policies and good practices and took note of the request of the Secretariat to have CAHROM members’ name and contacts introduced in the database Experts’ Directory.
17. Following the views of some member states that the entering of CAHROM members should not be systematic but voluntary, the Committee agreed that the Secretariat will contact each CAHROM member to check whether his/her name could be entered in the database and whether he/she would have proposals of promising, demonstrated or replicated good practices to propose for the database.
18. The Committee heard a presentation from the Youth Department of the Council of Europe about the Roma Youth Action Plan (RYAP) and recent developments in this area (including on activities related to Roma youth initiatives in the fields of anti-Gypsyism and combating hate speech online), as well as a presentation from the representative of the Advisory Council on Youth on Congress Recommendation 354 (2014) “Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective policy design at local and regional levels” and AYC’s views on this Recommendation.
19. The Republic of Moldova CAHROM member reported back about his participation as CAHROM Youth Rapporteur in coordination meetings of the informal contact group on the Roma Youth Action Plan.
20. The Chair summarized written comments received from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, and Slovenia on Congress Recommendation 354 (2014) “Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective policy design at local and regional levels”. The Committee adopted a common position paper summarizing various Committee members’ comments and decided to submit it to the Committee of Ministers for information (see Appendix 2).
21. The Slovenia CAHROM member confirmed the country’s willingness to be a requesting country for a thematic group on Roma youth empowerment and youth dimension of Roma inclusion policies and to host a thematic visit in Slovenia in September 2014. Croatia and Luxembourg confirmed their interest to be partner countries.
22. The Committee agreed to keep Roma youth on its agenda, and to appoint at its next meeting a new CAHROM Youth rapporteur in charge of following the work on the RYAP, should the Republic of Moldova nominate a new expert to CAHROM.
23. At the request of the CAHROM youth rapporteur, the Committee requested the Secretariat to prepare guidelines for the role of rapporteurs following consultation with CAHROM members about their expectations.
Roma and Traveller children’s education
24. The Committee heard presentations from Austria CAHROM member on after-school programmes for Roma children in Vienna, in Burgenland and other areas; from France CAHROM member on access to education and distance learning for Traveller children, including children from illiterate families and the work of CASNAV networks; and from the Swiss Federal Office of Culture on current projects related to the education of Swiss Traveller children. CAHROM members from the United Kingdom, Norway and Italy shared with the Committee the situation and challenges in their respective countries.
25. The Committee took note of the proposal to set up thematic groups on pre-school education of Roma children and on distance learning for Traveller children. As regards the first proposal, Latvia, Poland and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” confirmed their interest to be partner countries, whilst the Czech Republic agreed to host a thematic visit on this topic in November 2014. Regarding the second proposal, France will confirm the possibility to host a thematic visit in January or February 2015, whilst Switzerland confirmed its interest to be a partner country. The Secretariat asked other member states, such as Belgium, Norway or the United Kingdom, to indicate their possible interest to join this thematic group.
Roma children’s rights
26. The Committee proceeded with an exchange of views with the Head of Children’s Rights Division and Coordinator of the Council of Europe transversal Programme “Building a Europe for and with Children” about the CoE Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015 referring to its four chapters.
27. The Vice-Chair of CAHROM reported back about her participation in the Conference “Growing with Children’s Rights – Implementation of the CoE Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015” (Dubrovnik, Croatia, 27-28 March 2014).
28. The Committee concluded this exchange of views that it will consider appointing a rapporteur on children, and will gradually address within its plenary and thematic work standards and recommendations contained in the Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015from the Roma children’s perspective. It underlined that early/forced marriage and access to quality education are already on its agenda this year.
Academic Network on Romani Studies (RAN)
29. The CAHROM held an exchange of views with the president of RAN about the role, work, financing and membership of the RAN. The Committee welcomed the RAN’s offer to collaborate with CAHROM and noted planned meetings between RAN members and national authorities in several member states. The Committee noted with appreciation RAN’s collaboration with ERTF on migration research. The Committee encouraged the Secretariat to explore the possibility to link the RAN and Council of Europe experts’ databases and agreed to inform in advance the RAN about future thematic groups.
Right to leave one’s country
30. The Committee heard an introduction presentation from the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to leave a country, followed by a presentation from the Ministry of Interior of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” about recent developments and current position of the government on this issue.
Migration and freedom of movement
31. The Committee heard a presentation from the United Kingdom CAHROM member on bilateral cooperation between the United Kingdom and other member states on Roma, as well as presentations from the UNHCR on current studies on the Aznar Protocol and on the profile of Roma asylum-seekers originating from CoE (non-EU) member states and from a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Academic Network on Romani Studies on migration research and on the ERTF contribution to this project.
Preliminary conclusions of the thematic visit on solving the legal status of Roma from ex-Yugoslavia and their lack of personal documents
32. The Committee heard feedback from the Italian Ministry of Interior and Italy CAHROM member and from partner countries on the thematic visit to Italy on solving the legal status of Roma from ex-Yugoslavia and their lack of identity documents following the visit that took place in Rome on 28-30 April 2014 with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” as partner countries.
33. The Committee took note that the thematic report will be presented for endorsement at its next meeting.
Health and access to health care
34. The Committee heard an introduction to the topic by Italy CAHROM member who also shared information about the Equi-Health project of the International Organisation for Migration and took note of his proposal to set up a thematic group on Roma and health issues.
35. The Committee agreed with the principle to set up a thematic group on Roma and health issues in 2015 provided the identification of a requesting and sufficient number of partner countries. The Committee agreed to invite IOM to present the Equi-Health reports at its next meeting.
36. The Committee heard interventions about the follow-up given to the CAHROM thematic report on combating anti-Gypsyism, hate speech and hate crime in Hungary and Norway, as well as a presentation from Montenegro CAHROM member about activities and priorities of the Montenegrin presidency of the Decade for Roma Inclusion. The Committee also heard an intervention from the ERTF about replies to a questionnaire sent by ERTF to candidates to European Parliament elections, about ERTF collective complaint against the Czech Republic for alleged violations of the European Social Charter as regards the rights of Roma to education, housing and health, as well about recent Roma-related incidents in Europe, in particular a recent Dutch study about so-called mobile banditry and expulsions and ethnic profiling in France.
37. The Committee agreed to appoint a rapporteur on anti-Gypsyism among its members and would like to suggest to the Committee of Ministers to request other relevant Council of Europe committees (CDDH, CDPPE, CDDECS etc.) to appoint a similar rapporteur. The Chair encouraged CAHROM members to express their interest for this role to the Secretariat once some guidelines for the role of CAHROM rapporteurs (gender, youth, children and anti-Gypsyism respectively) will have been circulated by the Secretariat.
Proposals for future CAHROM thematic groups
38. The Committee agreed on a number of thematic groups for 2014 and 2015. The detailed list is available in document CAHROM (2014)7rev.
Arrangements and proposals for the agenda of the next plenary meeting
39. The Committee thanked the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina for their offer to host the 8th CAHROM meeting and agreed to organise the next meeting in Sarajevo on 28-31 October 2014. The agenda will include one half-day devoted to an exchange on Roma mediation with Roma mediators and relevant stake holders at national and local levels and half-day field visit to social housing projects for Roma. Both aspects will be discussed in the same municipality.
40. The Committee agreed to include the following items on the agenda of its next meeting:
- Elections of the Bureau for 2015 and Committee rapporteurs;
- Presentation by Sweden of the White Paper on abuses and rights violations of Roma duringthe twentieth century and the work of the Commission against anti-Gypsyism;
- Presentations by Azerbaijan and Ukraine about the situation of Roma;
- Presentation by Austria on Romani culture;
- Presentation by the Order of Malta about their activities on/with Roma;
- Presentation for endorsement of the CAHROM thematic report on solving the legal status of Roma and their lack of identity/personal documents;
- Presentation for endorsement of the CAHROM thematic report on Roma women empowerment and gender dimension of Roma inclusion policies;
- Preliminary presentation of the results of the CAHROM thematic visit to Slovenia on Roma youth empowerment and youth dimension of Roma inclusion policies;
- Preliminary presentation of the results of the CAHROM thematic visit to Croatia on the protection, use and teaching of the Romani language;
- Follow-up of previous thematic reports related to education, housing and anti-Gypsyism;
- Early/forced marriages in relation to human trafficking from youth and children perspectives;
- Discussion on the use of “contracts” for projects between Roma families/communities and municipalities/institutions;
- Discussion on how to link Roma inclusion policies and mainstreamed anti-poverty measures;
- Follow-up on the management meeting between the European Commission and the Council of Europe on cooperation and synergies between CAHROM and NRCP;
- Feedback and follow-up to the Dosta! campaign meeting from 16 May 2014.
Adoption of the abridged report (list of decisions)
41. The Committee adopted the present abridged report (list of decisions).
Appendix 1: Meeting agenda of the 7th CAHROM meeting
Strasbourg, 14 May 2014
1) Opening of the 7th CAHROM meeting
2) Adoption of the agenda
3) Recent developments
a. Recent developments at international level
b. Joint cooperation and synergies between the EU and CoE on Roma
c. Recent developments at national level
4) Roma women including early marriages
a. Early/forced marriages in relation to human trafficking
b. Roma women
6) Database on policies and good practices
Strasbourg, 15 May 2014
7) Youth, Roma children and education
a. Roma youth
b. After-school programmes for Roma children
c. Traveller children’s education
d. Exchange of views with the Programme “Building Europe for and with Children”
8) Exchange of views with the Academic Network on Romani Studies
9) Migration, freedom of movement and right to leave one’s country
a. Right to leave one’s country
b. Migration and freedom of movement
Strasbourg, 16 May 2014
10) Preliminary conclusions of the thematic visit on solving the legal status of Roma and their lack of personal documents
11) Health and access to health care
12) Combating anti-Gypsyism
13) Proposals for future CAHROM thematic groups
14) Arrangements and proposals for the agenda of the next plenary meeting
15) Adoption of the abridged report (list of decisions)
Afternoon meeting: Dosta! campaign: Moving Forward
Appendix 2: CAHROM position paper on Congress Recommendation 354 (2014) “Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective police design at local and regional levels”
The CAHROM welcomes and supports the Congress’ initiative to improve the situation of Roma youth throughout Europe. Congress Recommendation 354 (2014) “Empowering Roma youth through participation: effective policy design at local and regional levels” can be instrumental in achieving that goal.
Some member States supported the Congress Recommendation, but others raised their concerns in respect of the recommendations in no. 7, as not all member states face the same situation related to Roma youth integration, and member states have different ways and organisational structures for dealing with this issue. For example, in some member states policies are not targeted at specific groups and so it would not be possible to establish specific strategies or structures for Roma youth. Such member states prefer to mainstream Roma youth integration within wider youth policies. Therefore, they would have preferred paragraph 7 to use less prescriptive language to make clear that recommended actions will be only applicable in member states where these are appropriate and necessary.
Additionally, some member states stated that the Congress Recommendation is too theoretical and therefore of limited practical use. They emphasize the importance of supporting Roma families and practical projects at local level.
Finally the CAHROM emphasizes the need to involve Roma young people themselves in the development of policies which concern them.
The CAHROM had a useful exchange at its 7th CAHROM meeting in Strasbourg on 14-16 May 2014 with the Youth Department and the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe on the Roma Youth Action Plan and agreed to set up a thematic group on Roma youth empowerment and youth dimension of Roma inclusion policies. Slovenia will host a thematic visit of partner countries’ experts on this topic in September 2014. Since 2013 the CAHROM has appointed a Roma youth rapporteur among its members.