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‘Give a voice to Roma youth and civil society organisations in Parliaments’

On the occasion of International Roma Day, Momodou Malcolm Jallow (Sweden, UEL), General Rapporteur on Combating Racism and Intolerance, made the following statement:

“Fifty years ago today, the First World Romani Congress was held in London. This date, 8 April, was chosen as International Roma Day.

On this occasion, the Council of Europe celebrates the Roma community by commemorating its recent past, including the most tragic pages of it, with the extermination attempt by fascist forces in the 1930s and 1940s - and by committing to addressing the challenges this community faces across our continent today, including the Covid-19 health crisis. The pandemic has revealed the consequences of generations of disinvestment and exacerbated the impact of structural discrimination, causing serious socio-economic challenges for this group.

This year, particular attention is paid to the role of Roma youth and its ability to build bridges between groups and join forces to counter discrimination.

More urgent action must be taken to foster diversity, oppose stereotypes and encourage inclusive participation for Roma as well as for other minorities and under-represented groups.

As PACE General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance, I call on fellow parliamentarians in Council of Europe member States to support civil society organisations representing Roma and Travellers and to ensure that their voice is heard by the institutions and the entire population. Involving these organisations in parliamentary work is paramount to realise the principle of “Nothing for us, without us” that should consistently inspire antidiscrimination policies.

As parliamentarians, we must strive to cooperate with and listen to all the groups within the countries that we represent, particularly with those who face discrimination and exclusion.”