Recommendation 11 (1995)1 on "Towards a Tolerant Europe: the contribution of Roma (Gypsies)"

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe

1. Conscious of the importance for Europe of the presence in our countries of the Roma (Gypsy) people, often marginalised, excluded and persecuted;

2. Welcoming the initiative of the Vienna Summit in launching a plan of action and a European Youth Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Intolerance;

3. Welcoming the work carried out by the Parliamentary Assembly and, in particular, the Verspaget report on "The Gypsies in Europe";

4. Noting with satisfaction that at the Budapest Conference the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) set up a contact point for Roma issues, within the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) in Warsaw;

5. Recalling the Hearing of 11 July 1994 organised on the initiative of the CLRAE on the theme "Towards a tolerant Europe: the Contribution of Gypsies" and the proceedings of the Liptovsk´y Mikulás colloquy (15-17 October 1992) on "Gypsies in the Locality"2, the work of its working group on "Provision for Gypsies in Municipalities" and the network of cities set up in this context;

6. Recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i. implement without delay part II of Committee of Ministers Resolution (75) 13 and call upon national governments to submit national reports on the implementation of this Resolution;

ii. take steps to appoint a European Roma (Gypsy) mediator, as requested in CLRAE Resolution 125 (1981) and Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1203 (1993), or, failing that, set up a small ad hoc group of experts who could serve as a contact with the Committee of Ministers on Roma (Gypsy) matters;

iii. set up, within the Council of Europe Secretariat, a small unit responsible for Roma (Gypsy) matters which could act as an interface with the OSCE contact point, the Congress and interested NGOs;

iv. instruct the Secretary General to set up a joint study group within the Council of Europe to include Roma (Gypsy) representatives, government representatives, parliamentarians, representatives of local and regional authorities and non governmental organisations;

v. consider the feasibility of drawing up an international legal instrument on the movement of persons guaranteeing travellers living in one member country the possibility of obtaining identity documents enabling them to travel in member states in accordance with these countries’ legislation, in the same way as the other citizens of Member States;

vi. undertake a thorough study and, if necessary, recommend revision of national legislation to enable Roma (Gypsies) to enjoy their fundamental rights as citizens and take full part in the political, social, cultural and economic life of the member states in which they reside, and, for those living within the European Union, to take part in European elections;

vii. invite the governments of the member states to promote the setting up and running of the Network of Cities. European-level support for the Network’s activities should be provided by the three thematic meetings of the working group mentioned at point 8.iii of Resolution 16 (95);

viii. take steps to ensure more information is provided on the programmes and budgets available at European level for assisting Roma (Gypsy) communities and, in particular, take steps to ensure that an appropriate proportion of the assistance and funds available in certain organisations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Union, and the Council of Europe (especially its Social Development Fund) is earmarked for measures for Roma (Gypsies);

ix. consider the feasibility of setting up at European level a new solidarity fund to cover expenditure linked to general measures to assist travellers, in particular the costs borne by municipalities and regions;

x. invite the governments of member states which have not already done so to sign and ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages (ETS 148) and to accord particular attention, in this context, to recognition and promotion of the Romany;

xi. invite the governments of member states which have not already done so to sign and ratify:

a. the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS 144);

b. the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;

xii. invite the governments of member states to recognise Roma (Gypsies) as a minority with the same status and advantages as other minorities;

xiii. consider the feasibility of setting up, within the Council of Europe, an Information Centre on Roma (Gypsies) as an instrument in the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance; this Centre should liaise with local and regional authorities, in consultation with the joint study group referred to at point 6.iv. and in close co-operation with other similar centres. Generally speaking, it should work towards a better understanding between Roma (Gypsies) and majority populations;

xiv. invite the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) to pay particular attention to the discrimination, racism and intolerance affecting Roma (Gypsies) and, accordingly, to organise:

— a general hearing of Roma (Gypsy) representatives;

— advisory visits in countries where the situation is most tense;

In particular, the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) could suggest legislative measures to guarantee that the media do not deliberately or unintentionally convey a negative image of Roma (Gypsies);

xv. invite the governments of member states to consider the possibility of setting up centres at national level for mediation and dialogue between the authorities and Roma (Gypsy) communities with the collaboration of recognised and qualified mediators;

xvi. study the possibility of promoting European training programmes for Roma (Gypsy) mediators, thereby providing them with a status enabling them to play their role to the full in local and regional authorities;

xvii. invite the governments of member states to encourage the governments of member states to implement a settlement policy for Roma (Gypsy) communities wanting to become sedentary, by granting them permanent residence rights that can help solve their housing and health problems and meet their educational and vocational training needs;

xviii. consider the possibility of implementing a global action programme for Roma (Gypsies) by drawing up a Covenant between Roma (Gypsies), European institutions and public authorities. This Solidarity Covenant should enable all three parties to undertake binding commitments;

xix. lend its full support to the activities of the Council of Europe aimed at combating exclusion and extreme poverty;

xx. lend its full support to the urgent efforts of the Council for Cultural Co-operation aimed at instituting a "Roma (Gypsy) Cultural Route" and to its activities in the field of education, training and information;

xxi. lend its full support to the activities carried out by the CDEG (Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men) for the benefit of Roma (Gypsy) women;

xxii. lend its full support to the plan for a seminar of experts on the legal status of Roma (Gypsies) in Europe and in member states;

xxiii. lend its support to the Standing Conference for the Co-operation and Co-ordination of Romani Associations in Europe set up last year during the hearing organised by the Council of Europe;

xiv. support the efforts of the information service "Romnews" to provide wider coverage of Roma (Gypsy) problems and examples of good practice throughout Europe;

xxv. support the efforts of the "Interface" Review to provide examples of good practice and other useful information at European level.

7. Invites the Parliamentary Assembly to pursue its commitment to the Roma (Gypsy) cause, on the basis of the Verspaget report and Recommendation 1203 (1993);

8. Recommends that the OSCE seek, through the Roma (Gypsy) contact point set up within the ODIHR, a partnership with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.

1 Debated by the Congress and adopted on 31 May 1995, 2nd sitting (see Doc. CG 2 (3), Part I, draft Recommendation presented by Mr A. Slafkovsk´y, Rapporteur).

2 Studies and Text Series No. 38; Council of Europe Publications, 1994. (1) Debated by the Standing Committee and adopted on 18 March 1993, 3rd sitting (see doc. CPL (28) 2, part I, draft Resolution presented by the Standing Committee, Rapporteur: Mr A Tchernoff). (1)Debated by the Standing Conference and adopted on 17 March 1993, 3rd sitting (see doc. CPL (28) 1C, Part I, draft Resolution presented by the Standing Committee, Rapporteur:Mr Paul Bongers



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