Opening of the Conference
Necessity of strong cooperation between national authorities and civil society, role of lawyers and communication strategies as key tools for preventing and fighting discrimination were the focus of the joint European Union and Council of Europe international conference that took place on 7 November in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. The conference brought together representatives of the Ombudsperson Offices, equality bodies, state authorities and key local NGOs from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, as well as international experts and representatives of international organisations.
The conference was organised in the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe Partnership for Good Governance II and its two currently implemented projects: national Moldovan project “Strengthening the capacities of the justice sector actors to deliver justice in line with European standards, in particular to fight discrimination” and the regional project “Strengthening access to justice through non-judiciary redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination, hate crime and hate speech in Eastern Partnership countries”, funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by the Council of Europe.
William Massolin, Head of Council of Europe Office in Chisinau, Marco Gemmer, Head of Operations Section, European Union Delegation to the Republic of Moldova, Milica Djunic, Project Coordinator, Eastern Partnership and Russian Federation Unit, Human Rights National Implementation Division, DGI, Council of Europe, Menno Etemma, Programme Manager, No hate Speech and Cooperation unit, Anti-Discrimination Department, DG II, Council of Europe, and Ian Feldman, President of the Council for Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality addressed the participants during the opening session.
The conference served as a forum for an open exchange of experiences and solutions for better protection against discrimination at the national level. Participants discussed a recently conducted assessment of the Effectiveness of the National Equality body/Ombudsoffice as redress mechanism for victims of discrimination, hate crime and hate speech in Eastern Partnership countries. The discussion about the importance of efficient communication between all relevant actors in the area of non-discrimination, with the example of the Communication Strategy of the Moldovan Equality Council, was open and led to useful and practical conclusions.
William Massolin mentioned “Communication strategies and actions are very important for the bodies that deal with cases of discrimination, as it targets the victims, or potential victims of discrimination, who very often are people from vulnerable groups. In this sense, it is crucially important to make people aware of what discrimination is and which are the national remedies for protection against it.”
Marco Gemmer said “The EU places great importance on supporting the access of Moldovan citizens to judicial and non-judicial redress for violations of their rights, including for acts of discrimination. To achieve this, the Equality Council and the Ombudsperson need to be endowed with the necessary funding and infrastructure to assist the citizens. The Lawyers also need support in their role as first responders of citizens who became victims of discrimination. The European Union together with the Council of Europe, under the Good Governance programme, will identify shortcomings and ways of improvement. Today’s conference covering the Eastern Partnership region is a great opportunity to discuss challenges in addressing discrimination, hate speech and hate crime and how to tackle them through judicial and non-judicial means, for the benefit of the citizens.”
The works of the conference
Diana Cealic, Senior Project Officer, Strengthening the capacities of the justice sector actors to deliver justice in line with European standards, in particular to fight discrimination in the Republic of Moldova, e-mail address: Diana.Cealic@coe.int, tel.: +37322888910.
Eduard Pesendorfer, Justice Project Manager, European Union Delegation to the Republic of Moldova