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Study Visit with Equality Bodies and NHRIs

On 12-14 March, a Study Visit for Equality Bodies took place at the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg.
12-14 March 2019
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Study Visit with Equality Bodies and NHRIs

Participants in the study visit included members of the Commission for the Protection against Discrimination, from Bulgaria; the Greek Ombudsoffice and the Greek National Comission for Human Rights; the National Bar Council from Italy; and the National Comission for Combatting Discrimination from Romania.

The Study Visit was divided in four main sessions:

  • Hate Speech and Discrimination;
  • Anti-discrimination and Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups: the European Court of Human Rights’ Perspective;
  • A Gender Perspective;
  • Synergies and Future Co-operation.

Sessions included presentations on several topics made by relevant departments of the Council of Europe and will use participatory methods to ensure as wide a perspective as possible, such as the European Court of Human Rights, Gender Equality, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, GRETA and the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights.

The purpose of the Study Visit was fourth-fold:

  • Deepen the knowledge on CoE standards on non-discrimination, access to justice and Roma women’s issues;
  • Build on the existing capacity of the Equality Bodies and NHRIs to deal with cases brought to them by Roma women;
  • Provide a platform for exchanges among Equality Bodies and NHRIs of the JUSTROM2 countries;
  • Identify challenges and discuss potential future co-operation with the JUSTROM Joint Programme

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JUSTROM2 comes to an end in March 2019. To illustrate the work achieved during its implementation, below there is an extract was taken from the final report submitted by one of the JUSTROM2 lawyers at the end of the project.

JUSTROM2 through a team member's eyes:

 Overall, this year we assisted 214 beneficiaries out of which 71% were women (63 men, 151 women) and a total of 281 cases out of which 79% concerned women (76 men and 205 women) in 353 sessions. In the Awareness Raising Gatherings we informed 261 people out of which 77% were women (60 men & 201 women).

The Legal Clinic was very successful in playing its important empowering and enabling role towards access to legal aid, access to courts and public services as well as increase awareness regarding discrimination. Our well-established modus operandi from the first year of implementation was put to function for the second year. 

It is a telling example of empowerment, at least for the area where the Clinic is situated, that the majority of beneficiaries that acquired assistance this year already knew on the boundaries of our services (i.e. not being able to represent them). The quantitative results of JUSTROM1 was one important factor of disseminating the functions of our Clinic to the community as a well as to other communities through word of mouth. Another important factor for the continuity and success of the Clinic was the probono provision of our services during the break between JUSTROM and JUSTROM2.

With regards to discrimination, Anti-Gypsyism and Gender Based Violence our efforts have provided the basic foundations for those crucial issues to be addressed. This reminds me of what a great Professor of Philosophy once told me, ‘’a problem cannot be solved if it is not identified as a problem first’’.  It is true that even now, after two years of implementation, many women (even young) consider violence and discrimination as normal and part of the culture. Our facilitator said it best, women encounter these struggles silently. On a positive note, a few cases of addressing these ongoing phenomena may bring about concrete change by having a multiplier effect and treat them holistically. Women as role models have the power to turn up the volume of ‘’silent’’ discrimination, racism, hatred and violence.

It is of outmost importance to point out once again that Roma women in our area of operation, although mostly uneducated, are active and can adopt to problems even of the most complicated legal nature if they have assistance and support.

In practical terms, from the moment they are informed about their rights and on how to enact them, they are willing to pursue them, even when the involve issues of complex legal nature. 

JUSTROM2 has provided the forums to active Roma women to promote civic engagement and civil discourse. These foundations lead by women need to be strengthened through increasing awareness and capacity through mentoring, communication with key governmental and non-governmental Stakeholders. This is the only way to ensure sustainability, address and collectively solve issues of discrimination, access to justice, gender equality and anti-gypsyism