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Statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Momodou Malcolm Jallow (Sweden, UEL), PACE General Rapporteur on combating racism and discrimination, today made the following statement:

“On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), I pay tribute to the integrity and determination of all those who protested against racism over the last year, whether demonstrating in the streets of Europe’s big cities or using creative online tools, in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States. For many of them – especially the youngest ones ­– this was the first opportunity to stand up against racism and to fight for equality and non-discrimination. The protests created a new wave of awareness and triggered support at the highest national levels and across Europe.

As policy makers we must see the links between the different forms of racism and recognize the very structures that perpetuate these biases and design effective and broad legislative frameworks addressing the root causes.

We need to see the links between the death of George Floyd, the exclusion and prejudice faced by the Roma community in Europe, the stigmatization of Muslims, the increase in antisemitism. We must protect the rights of all vulnerable communities.

I call on the authorities of Council of Europe member States to seize this window of opportunity and step up efforts against Afrophobia - anti-Black racism - and all other forms of racial discrimination. To do so, they should recognise the legacy and the negative impact of colonisation and slavery, address structural and institutional discrimination, including in access to employment, quality healthcare, housing and education. Cultural tools should be part of measures and policies, particularly in educational contexts, aiming to eliminate negative stereotypes and support the empowerment of people of African descent. Their contribution to progress, to the social, cultural and economic development and rich diversity of our continent should be adequately recognised and valued.

We should not waste this opportunity to shape a fairer, more cohesive Europe”.