“Simply moving Roma families around, within or between states merely worsens their conditions,” Thorbjørn Jagland has warned ahead of today’s French government Roma meeting.
The Secretary General’s comments followed French action earlier this month in Paris, Lyon and Lille to dismantle illegal Roma camps.
The French authorities meet this morning to discuss the government’s policy. Interior minister Manuel Valls said the camps posed health risks to the hundreds of people living in makeshift accommodation.
Jagland believes the Council of Europe’s ‘Strasbourg Declaration on Roma’ provides a framework for dealing with the issues presented by illegal Roma camps. In a statement released ahead of the government meeting, he declared that: “Only comprehensive policies that ensure fair treatment and proper access to human rights will turn the situation around. This means focused and consistent efforts in areas such as education, housing, health care and employment. Involvement and empowerment of Roma are crucial to achieve real change.
“France was amongst the 47 Council of Europe member states to agree these policy priorities on Roma in the 2010 Strasbourg Declaration, and is committed to cooperate with other European countries to improve life for the Roma – Europe’s most marginalised minority.
“The Strasbourg declaration has led to programmes that will enable strong and effective policies for Roma integration throughout the whole of Europe, including a joint COE – EU Roma mediator programme in 20 member states, reinforcing the capacity of local authorities, and stronger cooperation between governments to learn which policies work well.
“I encourage France and other member countries to make full use of this European support to bring about much needed improvements in conditions for the Roma.”
Information: The Strasbourg Declaration on Roma
Information: The Council of Europe and Roma communities
Podcast – 2010: Roma: The case for France
News: Roma Turn To The Media In The Struggle For Civil Rights In Europe
Video: Romaphobia in Europe
Comment: Robert Rustem – “Europe is threatened by a resurgence of intolerance”