"Roma are fully-fledged members of society and securing their rights is part of the responsibilities of public authorities," said Congress spokeswoman on Roma issues, Miranda RIRA (Albania, SOC), on the occasion of the Roma International Day, on 8 April 2019. "Even though they are the largest minority in Europe with more than 10 million Roma, they continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence in several European countries," she warned.
"There is an urgent need for action at all levels of governance to promote their integration and participation in public life. As local and regional elected officials, we have a particular responsibility and above all the ability to develop initiatives with and for them," she added.
The Congress promotes the Declaration against anti-Gypsyism, a text that allows local and regional elected representatives from the 47 member states to take a stand against discrimination against Roma. To date, it has been signed by 117 local or regional elected officials from 33 countries.
This is also the aim of the Dosta! Congress Prize awarded every two years to three municipalities from Council of Europe member states which have implemented initiatives to integrate Roma in the long term within their borders. Applications for the 2019 edition are now open and must be submitted by 30 June 2019 at the latest.
In the same vein, the Human Rights Manual for local and regional elected representatives, recently published by the Congress, includes a chapter on Roma rights, with a reminder of the legal framework and the role that local and regional authorities can play, along with examples of good practice implemented in various countries.