© Università degli Studi di Padova - Credits: HCE Web agency
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) denounced the increasingly frequent use of security discourse on the national political scene.
Presenting her report to the Assembly, Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ALDE) pointed out that this security rhetoric, which is being used by political leaders in several member States, "tends to link insecurity with ethnic communities", as has recently been the case with Roma. "We cannot accept a whole community being associated with crime and trafficking, using this as an excuse for toughening security measures against them," she stressed, quoting the dismantling of Roma settlements and the recent waves of repatriation of Roma migrants to their countries of origin.
During an urgent debate with contributions from Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the parliamentarians asserted that "a clear distinction must be made in political discourse between individuals who have committed crimes and entire groups of people, such as Roma or any other minority or migrant group".
Consequently, to avoid the risk of playing into the hands of the extremists, PACE called on the public authorities and institutions at the national, regional and local levels and their officials to "refrain from statements [...] which may [...] be understood as hate speech, or as speech likely to produce the effect of [...] promoting racial hatred, xenophobia, or other forms of discrimination [...] based on intolerance".
Particular responsibility also goes to the media, which must refrain from disseminating messages liable to feed animosity towards persons belonging to a specific ethnic community or minority.
Furthermore, the Assembly welcomed the initiative by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to organise a high-level meeting in Strasbourg on 20 October to agree on priority measures geared to improving the situation of Roma in Europe. PACE will continue to closely monitor this issue, also in the light of the outcome of the high-level meeting.