MRG welcomes high level European meeting, but calls for greater participation of Roma
MRG is pleased to acknowledge the progress represented by the Council of Europe’s High Level Meeting on Roma and Travellers that took place in Strasbourg on 20 October. The significance of representatives from the Council, Europe’s governments, international organizations, and NGOs convening to discuss the welfare and future of Europe’s 11 million Roma cannot be overstated.
MRG and our partner organisations support and promote the idea of a European-wide Roma policy. The expulsion of hundreds of Roma families from France has confirmed that the situation of Roma crosses European borders and calls for pan-European initiatives.
Whilst recognising that it is a positive step forward, MRG finds it necessary to also recognize the meeting’s many shortcomings. For example, as provided by international human rights law, minorities are entitled to take part in all decisions which affect their lives. As such, MRG would have liked to have seen a greater level of involvement by Roma representatives, including from Roma women’s organisations, at the event and at the Task Force expected to draft the final declaration of the conference.
With that in mind, MRG recommends that the Council ensure substantial and meaningful participation by Roma, including Roma women, in the drafting of any legal or policy document concerning Roma communities, as well as in its implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
At the national level, MRG urges governments to mainstream Roma rights by assessing whether existing laws, policies and practices – especially with regard to education, employment, social protection, health care and housing – negatively affect Roma communities. And, to those governments which have not yet done so, MRG insists they sign and ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights.