Press release - 311(2011)

International Day of Roma: Statement by the Congress President
Keith Whitmore: “On a continent which promotes inclusion, we should be ashamed of the situation of Roma”

Strasbourg, 07.04.2011 – “On a continent which declares equality and inclusion as its fundamental values, and puts the welfare of its citizens as its primary objective, we should be ashamed of the situation of 12 million of our fellow Europeans, that is to say the Roma and Travellers living in the Council of Europe member states” Keith Whitmore, President of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, stressed today in his statement on the occasion of the International Day of Roma, 8 April.

“Today, Roma remain one of the most marginalised populations in Europe, victims of the persistent discrimination, prejudice and hate speech directed against them. They continue to be discriminated against when it comes to access to housing, to education, to health care and in finding jobs. They simply do not enjoy the same opportunities in life as others. This prejudice and discrimination are a gross violation of their human rights” he continued.

“This situation must change and it is at the local level where the drive for change must begin. It is at the local and regional levels where concrete initiatives and measures can be most efficiently implemented, and adapted to suit the local situation. It is also at this level where citizens have easiest access to policy makers as well as to their rights. Local and regional authorities have a key role to play in improving the situation of Roma, and it is encouraging to see that many municipal and regional networks are being created today, and that numerous initiatives are being taken to address the situation of Roma. These efforts must be increased; however, to ensure the most effective use of resources they should also be aligned and complement each other. This is why the Congress will organise a Summit of Mayors on Roma next autumn, to confirm the commitment of local and regional authorities and to coordinate their action in favour of Roma” President Whitmore said.

“As we mark International Day of Roma, we must take an honest look at what is happening to Roma communities and the anti-Gypsyism which is on the rise across Europe, not only from citizens but also in the discourse of elected representatives. On a continent which promotes inclusion, we must put an end to the exclusion of Roma” he concluded.

Communication Unit of the Congress
of Local and Regional Authorities
Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 49 36
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 27 51