During the event discussion focused on the role of local and regional authorities in combating the phenomenon of hate crime – which includes violence motivated by racism, xenophobia, or religious intolerance, or by bias against a person’s disability or sexual orientation – throughout the EU.
“It is from local authorities first and foremost that citizens expect immediate and effective action when social tensions rise or they become victims of violence,” said Friso Roscam-Abbing, head of FRA’s communication and awareness raising department. “Because local and regional authorities act to a great extent as intermediaries between citizens and the government, they are in a good position to enter into dialogue with the national authorities and together with the police, they can help to develop effective and sustainable ways of preventing bias-motivated crime.”
Local and regional authorities also have a vital role to play in victim support, helping to ensure victims are aware of their rights and know where to turn for advice and support, as well as funding support services of various kinds. In addition, their leadership is needed to develop dialogue between the general population and groups that often find themselves the target of hate crime, particularly in regions that have high ethnic or religious minority populations.
During the meeting, FRA also presented a new device to help fundamental rights implementation throughout the Member States. The ‘Joining up fundamental rights’ toolkit offers guidance and practical advice about how to integrate fundamental rights into the work of public authorities nationally, regionally and locally.
Conclusions from the Annual Dialogue will feed into the debate at FRA’s forthcoming Fundamental Rights Conference (FRC), which is entitled ‘Combating hate crime in the EU’ and will be organised in cooperation with the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The FRC will take place on 12-13 November 2013 in Vilnius (Lithuania).
FRA's cooperation with the CoR serves to sensitise local and regional authorities to fundamental rights issues, thus helping to engage all levels of government in the protection and promotion of fundamental rights.
Find out more about the FRA/CoR Annual Dialogue.