Friday, Apr 18th

Last update08:06:03 AM GMT


Institutions strongly condemn racism and intolerance

OSCE/ODIHR, Council of Europe and EU Fundamental Rights Agency make joint statement on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

In a joint statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Nils Muiznieks, Chair of the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI); Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA); and Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), strongly condemned manifestations of racism and related intolerance.

“Today we jointly commemorate the tragic events of 1960 in Sharpeville, which led to the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination 
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. On this day we renew our call to be vigilant in the face of acts motivated by racism and xenophobia.

“On a positive note, we acknowledge with great appreciation that in some European States, surveys show that tolerance and the rejection of discrimination are on the increase. These positive developments need to be strengthened and stimulated, since discrimination and victimisation still remain far too widespread. At the same time, levels of reporting by victims of racist assaults, threats or serious harassment and awareness of how to access redress mechanisms remains low.

“We are convinced that persistent racist and xenophobic speech from public figures and in the media can fuel prejudice and hatred against ethnic minorities and migrants, leading to discrimination in many areas of social and economic life, particularly in access to employment, health care, education, and housing. This creates a situation of social exclusion and, in some cases, leads to open hostility and violence.

“Our monitoring and research shows that the Roma are the ethnic group most  discriminated against across Europe. In particular, our findings highlight recurring forms of stigmatisation of Roma communities in public discourse.

“We acknowledge that the primary responsibility to protect the rights of Roma lies with the States of which Roma are citizens or long-term residents. However, a coordinated response at the European level is needed to address the cross-border dimension of the problems that these people experience.

“We, the signatories of this statement, believe that to combat racism and xenophobia proactively, States should ensure, inter alia, that

• barriers to education, health care, housing, and employment are removed.  Such policies should include the reintegration into mainstream schools of Roma children currently enrolled in special schools, and desegregation in the area of housing;

• adequate data are collected about the participation of vulnerable groups in these areas, in order to target policies better and to allow their impact to be assessed;

• legislation prohibiting racially motivated crime is introduced and enforced, along with training for law-enforcement officials in preventing and responding to these offences;

• measures are taken to address discrimination on other grounds in addition 
to ethnicity;

• national bodies responsible for the protection of human rights are mandated and adequately resourced to monitor the prevalence of racism and related intolerance and to take measures to promote equality, including advice and support for victims;

• measures are taken to increase awareness of rights and complaints mechanisms, in order to address low reporting levels;

• journalists are provided with training to challenge prejudice and stereotypes, in order to encourage informed and nuanced public debate; and

• educational programmes and awareness-raising campaigns are designed to challenge prejudice and stereotypes and strengthen a climate of mutual tolerance and intercultural dialogue.

“Our institutions stand together to support and assist States in finding sustainable solutions at local, national, and European levels, through the provision of data, research findings, specialist advice, and coordinating support, on the basis of our complementary fields of expertise.”

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European Commission ready to help countries facing increased influx of migrants

Malmström: Protect vulnerable persons and those in need of international protection

The European Commission is “carefully monitoring the situation” in North Africa and is ready to help and support Member States that are or might be confronted with an increased influx of migrants, Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs has said.

Speaking after the conversation with Mr. Roberto Maroni, Italy’s Home Affairs Minister, Ms. Malmström said: “Mr. Maroni and I have a common understanding that we need to prepare for all possible scenarios – financially as well as with concrete operational measures, and I am glad that Italy is already preparing to take care of migrants who might be in need of help.

“Depending on the particular circumstances with which Member States might be faced, on the requests from Member States in need and on the readiness of other Member States to provide the necessary operational support, the human and technical resources of Frontex (the European border security agency) could be increased according to future needs. We are also analysing how we can best make use of the emergency funding already available at EU level.”

Ms. Malmström added that protection obligations remain paramount. “Therefore, we must pay specific attention to vulnerable persons and those in need of international protection within the framework of a European response. We must ensure they get the protection to which they are entitled under international and EU law and that there is a respect of the non-refoulement principle.”

She welcomed the efforts which Italy has made in recent days to evacuate a number of third-country nationals, mainly Eritreans from Libya. “The situation for people of some other nationalities still in Libya or in the border areas remains particularly precarious, and I urge all Member States to make an effort to assist in their resettlement. It is equally important to ensure that those who are not in need of such protection and are not allowed to stay in the EU and are returned in safety and dignity in accordance with our relevant legal standards,” she said.

Ms. Malmström said that for an EU action to be successful and sustainable in the long run, they “need to support North Africa with a comprehensive strategy for supporting democratic and economic transition, mobility partnerships, and effective border management."

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Decreto flussi for seasonal workers: Applications from 22nd March

The Quota Agreement (Decreto flussi) allowing non-EU foreigners to come to Italy for seasonal work will be published in the Official Gazette on 21st March, so it will be possible for employers to begin applying for authorisation to work (nulla osta) on 22nd March.

Some 60,000 seasonal workers will be allowed to come to Italy this year.

Workers from the following countries will be admitted for seasonal work: Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Philippines, Kosovo, Croatia, India, Ghana, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, Tunisia, Albania, Morocco, Moldavia and Egypt.

In the meantime employers can prepare their applications as they wait for the 22nd March to submit them.

The employer can either personally prepare the online application, or seek the help of Benevolent Institutions (Patronati).

If you choose to personally prepare your application, please log on to the website of Ministry of Home Affairs (, register by typing in your email address and password. You’ll then have access to the area reserved for applications. Once here please click on “richiesta moduli” (application forms) and choose “Richiesta di nulla osta al lavoro subordinato stagionale - Modulo C” (Application for authorisation for seasonal subordinate work – Form C).

You don’t need to download the software for preparing the applications. Just fill in the form online and save it.

Then on 22nd March, retrieve your application and submit it.

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Less photocopies for permit applicants

Those applying for the Permit of Stay now have to only photocopy the pages of their passports with personal data and visas or immigration rubberstamps, Ministry of Home Affairs has said.

Previously each applicant had to enclose a copy of all pages of the passport, including the blank ones.

Four years have now passed since the Government charged the Post Office with the duty of receiving applications for the Permits of Stay. The service costs about 70 Euros, half going to the State while the Post Office retains the other half.

The Government plans to introduce a new tax to be paid by all applicants for the Permit of Stay. The tax will range from 80 to 200 Euros. The law introducing the tax has already been approved, so it will enter into force as soon as the Government issues a Legislative Decree clarifying how it is to be implemented.

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OSCE condemns intimidation of journalists in Italy

"Attempts to silence investigative journalism undermine democratic values"

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, has condemned continued intimidation and threats against investigative journalists in Italy and urged the Italian authorities to take action and investigate all such cases.

She deplored a recent brutal attack against Fabio Cosma Colombo, a journalist of the daily newspaper Metropolis. On 28th February near the city of Salerno, Colombo was beaten unconscious in the presence of a police officer, who failed to intervene. The journalist was allegedly collecting information about a young man’s death, later declared a suicide.

This assault is one of many recent attempts to intimidate Italian journalists. On 1st March, a death threat containing four bullets was sent to the headquarters of the public service-broadcaster RAI in Rome. The letter was addressed to four prominent journalists: Michele Santoro, the host of the political show Annozero; Marco Travaglio, co-founder of the independent newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano and a regular guest of Annozero; Gianni Barbacetto, a well-known journalist investigating corruption cases, and Peter Gomez, editor of the online daily

“I am deeply concerned by the climate of violence and intimidation against journalists reporting on such serious matters of public interest, as the organized crime,” Ms. Mijatović said. “Attempts to silence investigative journalism undermine democratic values.”

“It is even more alarming that these attacks appear to take place in an atmosphere of impunity. I call upon the authorities to carry out swift and transparent investigation into all those cases. It is essential that Italian authorities do their utmost to promote a safe working environment for all 
journalists,” Ms. Mijatović stressed.

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