At the January meeting of the Parliamenty Assembly of the Council of Europe Senator Zappone made the following statement on the Report: A Strategy to Prevent Racism and Intolerance in Europe and Racism in the Police.
Senator Katherine Zappone:
I wish to commend Mr Gunnarsson and Mr Davies on their excellent reports. It is particularly useful that these two reports are being considered together by this Assembly, and I believe that if the implementation of the recommendations proposed by the reports move together in tandem this will increase their value.
I, like most of us here, am extremely concerned by the visible demonstrations of racism and intolerance across Europe. These reports highlight a particularly worrying element of the struggle to create tolerant societies; intolerant or racist statements by public representatives. We are all only too aware of the danger of extremism in public discourse coming from public officials, and I believe that this is an issue that deserves further serious consideration and examination by this Assembly.
Both reports demonstrate that there is a considerable problem in Europe with lack of reliable data on incidents of racism and intolerance against individuals or groups. We must call for a redoubling of efforts by states to improve data collection so that we have a clear understanding of the situation across Europe.
I very much welcome the reference to human rights education and training in the Strategy report. I would suggest that training on racism and intolerance always be done in the context of broader human rights training undertaken using Human Rights Education methodologies and furthermore, that existing good practice examples be identified and their lessons and experience utilised.
For both reports, the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders is key. This should include National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), the police, politicians, NGOs, civil society and minority groups, in the elaboration, implementation and monitoring of strategies to prevent and tackle racism and intolerance.
It is clear that we are still far from consigning racist and intolerant views to the annals of history – the implementation of these reports should bring substantive change in this regard.