raoul wallenberg

European Roma Rights Centre scoops Raoul Wallenberg Prize

Earlier today, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Prize for extraordinary humanitarian achievement to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).

Video: Award Ceremony

Video: ERRC reacts to award


Presenting the the 10,000 EUR prize to ERRC Director Ðorđe Jovanović,  the Secretary General said : “While it is a matter of regret that individuals and communities in our continent are still subject to abuse and mistreatment, it is right that prizes like this highlight problems that might otherwise be overlooked – and recognise those who have gone to extraordinary efforts to counter them.

“I am happy to say that the 2018 award goes to an organisation that is breaking down barriers for Europe’s largest minority, the Roma people; an organisation whose energy, tenacity and belief in the rule of law are ensuring the delivery of Roma rights; an organisation whose courage and determination are inspiring young Roma people and showing them a future full of possibility.”

Video: Congratulations ERRC

The Budapest-based organisation is recognised for successfully challenging discrimination, anti-Romani racism and rights abuses of Roma through innovative litigation, evidence based research and policy development.

On this day in 1945, Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who used his status to save tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust, was arrested in Budapest. The Prize instituted in 2012 by the Council of Europe at the initiative of the Swedish Government and the Hungarian Parliament, is meant to keep his memory and outstanding achievements alive.

As a Roma-led public interest law organisation with the staff being majority Roma, the ERRC has proven both relentless and effective in combatting anti-Romani racism and human rights abuses in many countries, he added.

Since its establishment in 1996, the ERRC has brought cases to courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, and collective complaints to the European Committee of Social Rights. They have exposed police misconduct, the misplacement of Romani children in special schools, deficiencies in the housing of Romani families. Over the past year the ERRC has initiated more litigation than ever with a record number of new cases and third-party interventions before the European Court.

These cases have transformed the way that judges, officials, and people across Europe understand anti-discrimination laws, Secretary General stressed. “This is about challenging stereotypes and frustrating authorities’ attempts to push Romani citizens to the margins of their societies.”

The laureate of the Raoul Wallenberg Prize is selected by a jury of six independent persons with recognized moral standing in the field of human rights and humanitarian work, and appointed by: the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the municipality of Budapest, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Raoul Wallenberg family.

This is the third time the Raoul Wallenberg Prize has been awarded. Elmas Arus, a young Roma film director from Turkey, received the prize in 2014, and the second laureate in 2016 was the Greek association Agkalia, from the island of Lesvos, that provided frontline assistance to thousands of refugees arriving to Europe.




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