In Nils Muižnieks' speech, he also added that the economic crisis is worsening the situation: “For vulnerable groups or victims of institutional discrimination, the task quickly gets from daunting to virtually impossible…The economic crisis cannot but amplify this gap, in particular for the most marginalised segments of society”.
Jonas Grimheden, FRA’s access to justice team coordinator, presented the report ‘Access to justice in cases of discrimination in the EU: steps to further equality’. The report discusses barriers to helping victims and details promising practices in a number of member states. View report presentation.
Five separate working groups discussed topics from e-technologies as a form of raising legal awareness through to ensuring access to a lawyer and legal aid in a time of budget cuts.
In her closing remarks, Maija Sakslin, the chairperson of FRA’s management board, reminded participants that “the right to effective remedy, and the opportunity to seek redress for violations are basic rights – including in times of austerity. And when times get harder, more rights violations are likely to occur”.
She added, though, that the responsibility for ensuring access to justice remains with governments: “In the current difficult economic and social situation, the role of the non-governmental and private sectors were underlined as being vital to ensure access to justice for all. However, governments must take their responsibilities seriously. The enforcement of human rights is the responsibility of the state. The role of the NGOs and of the private sector should supplement but not replace government measures”.