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Annual Report 2011 [en] - [fr]

Press Release – 03.05.2012
Europe’s governments urged to act as economic gloom prompts rise in racism

Strasbourg, 03.05.2012 - European countries must learn to manage diversity or risk losing a rich pool of economic talent, the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has warned in its annual report.

Welfare cuts, diminished job opportunities and a consequent rise in intolerance towards both immigrant groups and older historical minorities are worrying trends emerging from ECRI’s country-by-country visits during 2011, the report reveals. Xenophobic rhetoric is now part of mainstream debate and extremists are increasingly using social media to channel their views, whilst discrimination against the Roma continues to worsen.

The report regrets that some countries failed to manage the influx of migrants and asylum seekers in 2011, with excessively rapid returns and poor reception conditions. It calls on European governments to bolster the capacity of national human rights bodies rather than using the economic crisis as a reason to cut back their resources.

The newly elected ECRI chair, Jen÷ Kaltenbach, said governments needed to learn that anti-racist action was key to building a strong society.

“it is a mistake to consider that the fight against racism and intolerance is only of interest to vulnerable groups. A fairer society is of benefit to all. Countering widespread negative stereotypes is the strategy to follow. Cultural richness and diversity has benefited Europe’s societies throughout history; resistance to racism is essential to preserve Europe’s future,“ he said.

The full report is available here

For more information on ECRI see www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int