ECTR meeting with Italian Minister for Integration Mrs. Cécile Kyenge

12-02-2014

On the 12th of February 2014, the ECTR delegation was received by the Italian Minister for Integration Mrs. Cécile Kyenge.

The main subject of the discussion was the presentation of the European Framework Statute on the Promotion of Tolerance, which has been elaborated under the aegis of the ECTR. The ECTR has also praised the Italian government for establishing a separate Ministry for Integration, which is a sign of recognition for the challenges posed by rising cultural diversity of European societies. Such a high prioritization of integration issues within governments is still rather rare in Europe.

Minister Cécile Kyenge has welcomed the presentation of the ECTR Statute with great interest. She emphasized that the project of the ECTR seems to be supplementary to the activities of the Italian Ministry of Integration, and puts forward new perspectives an innovative solutions. It deals with the subject of Tolerance, which is a much broader aspect than the usual anti-discrimination activity, which focuses mainly on ethnic issues.

She informed the ECTR that her Ministry has done an extensive review of the existing legislation on combating racism and extremism, with an assessment if and how it is implemented. Based on the review, she will shortly propose to the Italian government new measures to strengthen tolerance in the country. From this perspective the findings of the ECTR are very timely and can be interesting as they bring an international perspective and comparisons of good practices in other countries. Mrs. Kyenge also stressed that education - as in the ECTR project - is a key element in advancing tolerant behaviors in the society. In her proposal, a special focus is given to schools, sports, work, welfare, habitation, health and communications.

Both sides discussed in depth the ECTR proposal to establish an independent watchdog to monitor the status of Tolerance in Europe. Mrs. Kyenge broadly informed about the activities of the UNAR - National Office against Racial Discrimination, which is a governmental organization. However, she recognized the need for an independent institution and promised the ECTR to discuss it as a possible model solution for Italy.

Mrs. Kyenge was informed that the ECTR will present the next day to the Italian Parliament (Commission on Human Rights) the Framework Statute. In this area she informed that the government has presented in July 2013 a Law proposal to address the issue of hate speech, especially in the Internet.

The Law proposal was then rejected by the deputies. Mrs. Kyenge argued the ECTR innovative proposals in the area for addressing the challenges of hate speech may be found especially interesting for the deputies and serve as a departing point for new legal initiatives.

Both sides have agreed to inform each other of their activities. Minister KKyenge promised that the ECTR proposal will be carefully reviewed and were appropriate endorsed and included in their legal proposals to the government/parliament. The ECTR has declared its readiness to serve with their experts and projects.

The meeting on the side of the ECTR was attended by Ireneusz Bil, Secretary General and two legal advisers - Prof. Yoram Dinstein and Hon. Ugo Genesio.