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International Roma Day (8 April 2019)

Statement by Timo Soini, President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Presidency of the Committee of Ministers Strasbourg 8 April 2019
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International Roma Day (8 April 2019)

“In Europe today, the treatment of Roma and Travellers remains a major human rights issue. Despite significant efforts from many governments in the member States of the Council of Europe, Roma communities continue to face discrimination, poverty and social exclusion.  Access to fundamental rights such as health, housing, education or employment are still not guaranteed. This demands change.

International Roma Day is an opportunity to recall our obligations in the protection of human rights and reaffirm our commitment to promoting equality and non-discrimination to all Roma communities in Europe.  I would however highlight the particular vulnerability of Roma and Traveller women and girls, who are among the most disadvantaged groups in Europe today.

All women and girls, including those in Roma communities, should have the right to live their lives freely and to be able to make their own choices without undue pressure from their community, family or the State. It is a question of guaranteeing fundamental human rights. 

To this end, we must raise awareness about the serious obstacles that Roma and Traveller women face in accessing justice and rights.  We must take action to empower Roma and Traveller women through addressing issues such as domestic violence, early or forced marriages and human trafficking. In this context, the Finnish Presidency was pleased to host recently the 7th International Roma Women’s Conference (25-27 March 2019), which explored these issues and the conclusions of which will provide guidance to the future work of the Council of Europe in this area.”