ERTF at the Advisory Committee on the FCNM

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Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

The ERTF presented on 19 June 2013 its project for the adoption of a Charter on the Rights of the Roma to the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The presentation conveyed a strong message for raising awareness about the need to acknowledge the vulnerability and the specificities of the Roma community in Europe. It argued the lack of efficiency of the existing legal instruments and was followed by a vivid exchange of views with the 18 experts.

This ambitious initiative orients the ERTF’s efforts towards an effective promotion of the prohibition of discrimination by proposing an extension of the established system of the ECHR to the Roma. After capturing the attention of the Committee on this first presentation, the forum is working to bring the project to a next level.

ERTF & Young Roma in Europe

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The Secretariat of the European Roma and Travellers Forum took part in the International Seminar “Young Roma in Europe” which took place in Prague on 31 May until 2 June 2013. This seminar was organised in the frame of the World Music Festival KHAMORO, which this year celebrates 15th years of its existence. The seminar was gathering International (non)Roma organisations such as the Open Society Foundations, the European Commission, the European Roma and Travellers Forum, Council of Europe, Czech National Agencies for Youth in Action as well as Roma Youth networks and local/national Roma Youth organisations. 

The Head of the Secretariat, Mr Robert Rustem, who was one of the speakers at the seminar, presented the mission and the objectives of the European Roma and Travellers Forum which aims at achieving equal rights and equal opportunities for Roma in Europe and enhancing their political participation. He outlined the main principles which govern the activities of the organisation and presented the proposals concerning the new organisational structure, the conditions for membership, and the new working methods.

ERTF Secretariat met with the Scientific Committee of the European Academic Network on Romani Studies

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On 22 May 2013 the ERTF Secretariat met with the Scientific Committee of the European Academic Network on Romani Studies in Strasbourg to discuss ways of increasing cooperation between these two entities in Roma related issues. Since the overall aim of the project is to facilitate intercultural dialogue and support efforts towards the social inclusion of Romani citizens in Europe, ERTF asked for a support in providing resources of existing research to the issues that are of outmost priority to the organization i.e. education, the recognision of the Roma Holocaust (Pharrajimos), Roma Rights etc.  

It was notably decided that the Network will assist ERTF in identifying relevant researchers to prepare a publication on Pharrajimos, which should mark the seventy years since the genocide of Roma and Sinti on 2 August 1944 in Auschwitz - Birkenau. It was also agreed that the Network will provide ERTF with comments on the Charter on the Rights of the Roma, a document which has recently been discussed at the meeting of the Ad hoc Committee of experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM) in Strasbourg. ERTF strongly believes that the contribution from the academia is of significant importance in foster cooperation with policymakers, by providing evidence for better conceived policy initiatives.

For more information about the Network: http://romanistudies.eu/

ERTF attended the 5th CAHROM meeting

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Between 14-16 May, the ERTF attended the fifth meeting on the Ad hoc Committee of experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM) in Strasbourg. The ERTF had raised different issues to the agenda of the Committee such as the ERTF Charter on the rights of Roma, the setting-up of a European Commemoration Day for the Genocide of Roma. The ERTF opinion’s was also requested regarding the statelessness issue.

Concerning the ERTF Charter, and following a discussion regarding the feasibility and suitability of transforming it in a legally binding-instrument, the CAHROM agreed on seeking for the views of the member states on that document during the next meeting.

Addressing Segregation of Roma children

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"The American civil rights activist Malcolm X once said that "education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." This photo exhibition that we open today is a reminder that we are not all equal when it comes to the right to education", stated Rudko Kawczynski in its speech for the inauguration of the exhibition "Failing another generation: addressing the segregation of Roma children" today, in Strasbourg, during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)'session.

This event was co-organised by the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) in the framework of the PACE debate Ending discrimination against Roma children. The work of the acclaimed photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair brings to life the experience of young Roma who challenged the practice of school segregation in their country.

INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY - 8 APRIL

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Strasbourg, 8 April 2013: Today, on International Roma Day, the European Roma and Travellers Forum declares its strong solidarity with many Roma who still experience extreme poverty, miserable conditions, fear and discrimination in their daily lives. Current conditions are an affront to human dignity everywhere.

We take this occasion to pay tribute to those who have fought, and continue to fight – despite the hardship and sacrifice involved – for equality and the right of all people to live with respect and dignity. The struggle to break down the prejudices towards Roma and to eliminate discrimination is essential to the struggle for social justice and a better world, which is the responsibility of us all.

ERTF at the Assembly of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

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On 20 March 2013, the ERTF addressed the Assembly of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) during its plenary session in Strasbourg. This exchange of views with the experts coming from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe has given the ERTF an opportunity to present its activities and objectives, but also to sensitize the ECRI members to the main issues and challenges faced by the Roma communities in Europe.

This was also an occasion to elaborate on the cooperation possibilities between this Council of Europe monitoring body and the ERTF. Followed by a presentation by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), the discussion was a big success and aroused a lot of interest from the ECRI members.

Launch of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion

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Strasbourg, 20 March 2013," The Alliance project is timely because the situation of Roma remains an affront to our democratic ideals and values. But all these efforts will come to nothing unless both, national and local authorities are politically committed to make radical reforms. We hope that this political commitment and goodwill will be forthcoming at this project", stated Rudko Kawzyncki in his speech during the launching ceremony of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion.

Other speakers addressing the audience were the Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, the Deputy Mayor of the one of the eleven founding participants, the City of Heraklion, Despoina Syggelaki - together with Congress President Herwig van Staa.

The Alliance's project was initiated following the Summit of Mayors on Roma in 2011, and aims at providing support to local and regional authorities in implementing inclusive policies, especially through exchanging experiences and practices, organising thematic workshops and training or study visits as well as sharing information on policies and sources of funding. Its focuses on thematic issues such as education, housing, health care and employment, as well as cross-cutting issues such as empowerment and participation, access to public services and funding, rights and duties.