Anti Racism Commission launches guidelines for governments to combat anti-Gypsyism

On 19 September 2011, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) issued guidelines to the Council of Europe’s 47 member countries to fight a rising tide of anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Roma.

The guidelines – contained in the its thirteenth General Policy Recommendation – call for action to stop the segregation of Roma children at schools and integrate them with pupils from the majority population, to provide access to decent housing that is not segregated, to ensure that Roma are not evicted without notice or opportunity for rehousing, and for steps to be taken to legalise long-standing Roma sites built in breach of town planning regulations

It calls for Roma to have secure access to quality health care and for segregation in hospitals to end, and says discrimination in the health sector must be prosecuted and punished. There should be no obstacles to Roma exercising traditional trades, and Roma should be consulted to find alternatives, for instance through micro-loans or tax breaks. All Roma children should be registered at birth and given identity documents.

Governments should encourage Roma victims of violence and crime – including misconduct by the police – to lodge complaints, and the media should avoid inflammatory reporting.

The guidelines also urge equal provision in public services such as water, sanitation, electricity, refuse removal and transport for Roma communities concentrated in certain neighbourhoods. It asks governments to ensure freedom of movement legislation does not discriminate against the Roma and that their culture is protected and promoted amongst the majority population.

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Click here for guidelines (pdf)

ECU research on ‘Enabling equality: furthering disability equality for staff in HE’

Equality Challenge Unit logo

In September 2011, the Equality Challenge Unit published ‘Enabling equality: furthering disability equality for staff in HE’.

The guidance is structured into ten themes to highlight practice which the research found to be influential in shaping the experience of disabled staff employed in Higher Education Institutes. Each theme outlines the evidence derived from the research, followed by recommendations for action.

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Government guidance on cuts to voluntary sector funding

Department for Communities and Local Government

On 2 September 2011, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles published guidance to local authorities on how to protect voluntary and community groups from disproportionate cuts to their funding.

The guidance confirms the need to consult voluntary and community organisations. It also states that – in the interests of economy and efficiency – authorities are not obliged to undertake diversity questionnaires.

The guidance states:

‘Authorities should seek to avoid passing on disproportionate reductions – by not passing on larger reductions to the voluntary and community sector and small businesses as a whole, than they take on themselves – and in particular:

  • An authority intending to reduce or end funding (where ‘funding’ means both grant funding and any fixed term contract) or other support to a voluntary and community organisation or small business should give at least three months’ notice of the actual reduction to both the organisation involved and the public/service users.
  • An authority should actively engage the organisation and service users as early as possible before making a decision on: the future of the service; any knock-on effect on assets used to provide this service; and the wider impact on the local community.
  • Authorities should make provision for the organisation, service users, and wider community to put forward options on how to reshape the service or project. Local authorities should assist this by making available all appropriate information, in line with the government’s transparency agenda.’

The guidance also states:

‘To achieve the right balance – and before deciding how to fulfil their Best Value Duty – authorities are under a Duty to Consult representatives of a wide range of local persons; this is not optional. Authorities must consult representatives of council tax payers, those who use or are likely to use services provided by the authority, and those appearing to the authority to have an interest in any area within which the authority carries out functions. Authorities should include local voluntary and community organisations and small businesses in such consultation. This should apply at all stages of the commissioning cycle, including when considering the decommissioning of services. In the interests of economy and efficiency, it is not necessary for authorities to undertake lifestyle or diversity questionnaires of suppliers or residents.’

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EHRC work on the Convention for the Rights of Disabled People

The EHRC logo.

In August 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a briefing document on the activities it is carrying out  across Britain to fulfil its role as one of the designated independent bodies which promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention in the UK.

The United Nations Convention for the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRPD) is an international human rights agreement to protect and promote the human rights of disabled people throughout the world. The UK Government ratified the Convention in June 2009. This means that the UK Government (including the devolved Governments) must take concrete action to comply with the legal rights and obligations contained in the Convention.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission together with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland are the four designated independent bodies to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention in the UK. Collectively, the Commissions are the UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM) for the Convention.

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