Diversifying your sources

Different types of data are necessary to get a comprehensive and reliable picture of the situation.

Official statistics, complaint mechanisms, NGO reports or academic research can offer a good starting point for assessing where there are gaps and challenges in fundamental rights.

Example

Discrimination and exclusion of Roma has been widely documented by various organisations, including FRA. Since 2011, the European Union makes a concerted effort to promote Roma integration and make tangible improvements to the lives of Roma in the EU, through its EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies. The availability of data and updated information on the current situation of Roma is a key starting point for identifying goals and targets for Roma inclusion. It also  measures progress on the ground over time.

Official data on the situation of Roma has been patchy or even non-existent at national level. Therefore, FRA was tasked with assisting EU institutions, Member States and other stakeholders in measuring the progress of Roma integration strategies and action plans implemented under the common EU Framework. Since 2011, FRA systematically provides data on Roma integration through its surveys, qualitative field research and the collection of existing official and non-official data.

In 2011, FRA held interviews with representatives of local authorities in 11 Member States. Many local authorities know about data related to Roma integration that are not necessarily known to national authorities. FRA decided to survey authorities asking them if they have any data that can be useful in the context of measuring progress and outcomes related to Roma integration. The mapping is done through an online survey amongst public authorities, bodies, or institutions/offices at all administrative levels (local, regional, national, EU) that produce, use/work with, or have data related to Roma integration. The results will be provided to the Member States and enable them to draw on the full diversity of data sources for monitoring purposes.

For further information, see the FRA Roma multi-annual programme.

Learning Point

Join up data collection
Local authorities maintain data sets about their inhabitants that are rarely used for monitoring fundamental rights. Developing mechanisms that permit local and regional data to be collected nationally contributes to having accurate national data on fundamental rights. Continuous monitoring and evaluation efforts at all levels generate a comprehensive picture of fundamental rights outcomes and help measure progress over time.

Use EU data, national statistics and other objective data sources
These can provide a comparative overview about the fundamental rights situation in other countries, regions or municipalities. Using comparable and reliable data as a basis for fundamental rights initiatives will enhance credibility and strengthen the case with colleagues, managers and politicians.

Example

The FRA European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) was the first EU-wide survey of immigrant and ethnic minority groups’ experiences of discrimination and victimisation in everyday life. It sought to understand the reasons behind the underreporting of rights violations. One of the survey’s findings was that respondents did not know how to report violations.

  • Four fifths (80%) of all respondents (23,500 across the EU) could not think of a single organisation that could support victims of discrimination – government, non-government or equality body.
  • When asked about the named equality bodies in their country, nearly two thirds (60%) had never heard of them.
  • More than one third (36%) of those who were discriminated against did not submit a complaint because they did not know how or where to do so.
  • Over one fifth (21%) of victims of discrimination did not report either because they considered the process inconvenient, bureaucratic or too time-consuming.

Source: FRA Report (2012) Access to Justice in cases of discrimination, p. 17.

Learning Point

Look behind the figures
Official statistics present fundamental rights violations in numbers. Yet, many violations go unreported. Public institutions should use a variety of different sources of information. These include qualitative field research or reports by non-governmental organisations, academic research. It may be possible to make a wider generalization by looking at individual complaints’ patterns. 

Tip

FRA has undertaken surveys on experiences of discrimination and other fundamental rights abuses by different minority groups (Jews, LGBT people, ethnic minorities including the Roma), children and women.

See: http://fra.europa.eu/en/research/surveys