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Strengthening the protection of the rights of national minorities

Elvira / Kovacs / Serbia

According to the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, meeting by videoconference, attention to minority rights since the adoption of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1995 has clearly diminished. “Minorities are sometimes perceived as a threat to the security and territorial integrity of States, the rights of persons belonging to national minorities are often instrumentalised for political ends, and increasing tensions have also been observed around the use of minority languages and teaching in and of these languages.”

“At the same time, we have been witnessing, throughout Europe, a rise in hate speech often targeting anyone who is perceived as different. Such discourse endangers social cohesion while using persons belonging to national minorities as scapegoats,” the committee said.

In adopting the report by Elvira Kovács (Serbia, EPP/CD), the committee called on the States Parties to the Framework Convention to incorporate the standards enshrined in this instrument into domestic legislation and to put them into practice, “by adopting comprehensive legislative frameworks for the protection of the rights of national minorities”. “The eight States that have not yet ratified the Framework Convention should ratify it, in line with the repeated recommendations of the Assembly,” the committee added.

States should strengthen the dialogue with persons belonging to national minorities, “by setting up permanent consultation mechanisms”, allowing their full and effective participation on all issues concerning their rights. The committee also recommended that additional measures be put in place to combat hate speech against these persons.

According to the parliamentarians, these measures could be coupled with the development of indicators to evaluate outcomes, in particular as regards societal integration.

Finally, the committee proposed “more multi-faceted co-operation with civil society” through the creation of a public online platform that would enable more data collection and would allow serious concerns about the rights of persons belonging to national minorities to be detected at an earlier stage.