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ECRI urges Spain to put in place measures to ensure that Roma students complete compulsory education [editar]

5th Report on Spain of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

28/02/2018
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ECRI urges Spain to put in place measures to ensure that Roma students complete compulsory education
  • This supervisory body on human rights of the Council of Europe also urges Spain to establish an independent body to promote equality
  • The model of educational programs of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano is presented as example to follow. In addition calls for reducing school segregation.
  • Establishes a period of two years to carry out a follow-up process of these two recommendations

Madrid, March 1, 2018. - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), established by the Council of Europe, issued on February 27, its periodic follow-up report on Spain on issues related to racism and intolerance . In this report, ECRI reviews the progress made by Spain since the last report (2010) and points out several recommendations that directly affect Roma. Two of them priorities and subject to monitoring within two years: measures urgent to increase the percentage of Roma children who finish compulsory education and the establishment of an independent organization for the promotion of equality.

Educational situation of the Roma students

ECRI strongly recommends, once again, that the Spanish authorities put in place measures to ensure a rapid increase of the percentage of Roma children who complete compulsory education. In this sense, ECRI considers that the Spanish authorities should, at the central, regional and local levels focus on improving the educational results of Roma students. "ECRI welcomes the models conceived by civil society, such as the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, to prevent school absenteeism and early school leaving." However, adds "that these programs should be extended and that their financing by a specific part of income taxes should be maintained." However, given the scale of the problem, "ECRI believes that efforts by civil society alone are not enough and that school authorities at the national and regional levels must assume their responsibility to guarantee compulsory education for all. Therefore, they should take responsibility and adopt, in close collaboration with Roma civil society, other structural measures aimed at tackling school absenteeism and early school leaving. "

On the other hand, the ECRI considers the Recommendation subject to follow-up issued in its last report to "adopt measures to ensure an equitable distribution of Spanish students, immigrants and Roma in the various schools". This body of the Council of Europe points out the negative impact of school segregation on the expectations of Roma children and, in particular, Roma girls, which in many cases leads to early school leaving. In this context, ECRI estimates "that the authorities should continue to focus on reducing school segregation and its negative impact."

Independent body for the promotion of equality and general legislation against discrimination

The second priority recommendation indicated by the ECRI implies "that the authorities adopt urgent measures to establish an independent body to promote equality. In order to ensure that the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination is independent and it is endowed with the faculties set forth in Recommendations nos. 2 and 7 of the general policy of the ECRI ".

Already in its fourth report (2010), ECRI noted that the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination (CERED), established in 2009, lacked independence and investigative powers and the right to initiate and participate in judicial proceedings, and recommended that the authorities adopt measures on an urgent basis, fundamentally as regards their independence.

ECRI "welcomes" the creation of a Network of Assistance Centers for Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, comprising eight specialized NGOs with 87 offices throughout the country, and the assistance it provides to victims of discrimination (a Network coordinated by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano), but is "extremely worried" about the evolution of CERED itself. "Since 2012, it has not published any annual report, and its president resigned in mid-2014." According to the report, "since mid-2015, ECRI has not been able to find indications of any important activity".

For all these reasons, ECRI concludes "Spain lacks an independent body to promote equality capable of introducing real social change and achieving greater equality. Therefore, ECRI considers that the Spanish authorities should now, after the reduction of the economic crisis, urgently establish an adequate independent body to fight against racism and intolerance in accordance with European standards. “The agency "should have its own budget and separate facilities, and should designate its own staff. You should also have the right to receive complaints regarding racism and discrimination, and to provide - possibly together with the network - assistance to victims. It should have appropriate investigative powers and the right to initiate and participate in judicial proceedings."

In order to create a strong and independent body to promote equality, ECRI proposes "merging several existing agencies to fight against racism and discrimination and create an independent institution."

In a broader context, "ECRI strongly recommends once again that the Spanish authorities adopt as soon as possible a general anti-discrimination legislation that is in line with the standards set out in paragraphs 4 to 17 of its Recommendation no. 7 of general policy ".

"Palabra de Gitano" and the role of the media

According to the ECRI report, "the media also contributes to the spread of racism and xenophobia." This body understands that media coverage of issues related to the Roma community sometimes diffuses a negative image.

"A case worthy of mention," according to the ECRI, "is the TV series Palabra de Gitano, broadcast during prime time. The report notes that already in 2013 the Ombudsman concluded that this program spread negative stereotypes and a skewed and negative image of Roma and their culture, which contributed to increase rejection, intolerance, discrimination and hatred towards them. The Ombudsman recommended at the time that the government provide tools to prevent the issuance of this type of program.

Full report: https://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/Country-by-country/Spain/ESP-CBC-V-2018-002-ENG.pdf 

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