The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has been awarded the Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize for its outstanding and impressive contribution to raise awareness of the human rights situation of the Roma people, the largest ethnic minority in Europe.
The prize, which has been awarded every two years since 2014, goes to either a single individual, a group of individuals or an organization that has accomplished an extraordinary humanitarian achievements.
In an article published on the ERRC’s website, the president of the organization, Đorđe Jovanović says, “The recognition accorded to my colleagues and me by being awarded the 2018 Raoul Wallenberg Prize is a great encouragement for us at the ERRC, but we know that we have so much more work to do. As long as there remains a gap between judgements and justice for Roma, and as long as justice is denied or deferred, our work will go on.”
The jury argued that the ERRC successfully has challenged discrimination, anti-Romani racism and rights abuses of Roma through innovative litigation, evidence based research and policy development.
The ERRC was established in 1996 in Budapest, Hungary. It is a Roma-led international public interest law organisation working to combat anti-Romani racism and human rights violations of Roma across Europe. In the spirit of Raoul Wallenberg, it works tirelessly, often at great personal risk to its staff, in overcoming bureaucratic obstacles by providing innovative litigation and tools to combat systemic discrimination with a view to achieving equal access to justice, education, housing, health care and public services.
RWI’s Deputy Director, Rolf Ring, who sits on the jury, attended the event in Strasbourg:
Before the European Roma Rights Centre was founded in 1996, a grotesque stereotype – that Roma themselves were responsible for their position in European society – passed for the truth. Twenty years later, only a hardened racist would take that view. Thanks to the instrumental role played by the ERRC, today Romani women and men are exposing the real reasons Roma find themselves on the edges of European society: human rights violations.
The ERRC deserves the Raoul Wallenberg prize not only for its extensive achievements through domestic and international litigation – it has set in motion more than 500 court cases in 15 countries and to the European Court of Human Rights, as well as brought collective complaints to the European Committee of Social Rights, to bring to justice state and non-state actors who have discriminated against Romani individuals or have committed violence against them – but also for its tremendous commitment to improve public awareness and media coverage of Roma rights related matters in Europe through the active and strategic use of social media, the Internet and other forms of public communication ensuring a balanced reporting concerning Roma.
The Jury consists of six independent persons with recognised moral standing in the field of human rights and humanitarian action, and appointed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the municipality of Budapest, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund, the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Raoul Wallenberg family.