Paris, September 2017 – In the framework of the Just and Safer Cities for All (JUST) project, Efus is organising a series of debates with local elected officials, security practitioners and civil society representatives in European cities to discuss the prevention of discriminatory violence at the local level. The aim is to further discuss and refine recommendations for local stakeholders who wish to implement strategies to counter and prevent hate and intolerance in their territories. What should the role of local authorities be in countering discriminatory violence? What kind of action should they take to prevent it? How can cooperation with law enforcement agencies or victim support organisations be set up or improved? These questions feature prominently in the debates.
This initiative was started in Madrid (Spain) in November 2016 and continued in Vienna (Austria) in March 2017. Efus, with the contribution of the local actors that attended both events, drew up a first draft on the priorities for local authorities’ action and for the prevention of discriminatory violence. The subsequent local debates, which are currently being held in other cities in Europe, aim to include the contributions, perspective and points of view of local actors from different European countries in these recommendations.
Drafting recommendations for the upcoming Manifesto of Barcelona and Catalonia
The ultimate objective is to work towards ending discriminatory violence in European cities. The recommendations will form part of the topical chapters of Efus’ Manifesto of Barcelona and Catalonia to be adopted during Efus’ international conference, Security, Democracy & Cities: Coproducing urban security policies. The manifesto will contain considerations, recommendations and engagements for Efus’ local and regional authorities to follow for the next five years in the field of countering discrimination at the local level.
Lunch debate in Brno (Czech Republic)…
On September 19, a lunch debate took place in Brno (Czech Republic) in the framework of their National Crime Prevention Days. The event gathered representatives from the Probation and Mediation Service, from the cities of Brno, Brasov (Romania) and Vienna, academics from the University of Brno, the University of Prague, the Mendel University of Brno, the University of Bratislava (Slovakia) and the Czech Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention.
The project and its recommendations were introduced by Pilar de la Torre, Programme Manager at Efus, and the discussion was launched by Shams Asadi, Head Commissioner for Humans Right of Vienna, who shared the experiences of her city and encouraged participants to react on the recommendations.
The discussion focused around four main issues that are particularly important for local authorities : gaining more knowledge and evidence on the real situation of vulnerable people at the local level; tackling underreporting by gaining the trust of vulnerable citizens; adopting a multidisciplinary approach and involving local actors, including representatives from minorities and civil society organisations, to identify priorities and design appropriate strategies, and lastly, tackling hate speech in social media.
… and in Stuttgart (Germany)
On October 6, another lunch debate was held in Stuttgart (Germany) in the framework of the General Assembly meeting of the German-European Forum for Urban Security (DEFUS). Representatives of the cities of Augsburg, Düsseldorf, Essen, Freiburg, Gelsenkirchen, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Munich, Stuttgart, as well as from the Prevention Council of the Land of Lower Saxony (Landespräventionsrat Niedersachsen) engaged in the discussion.
Efus Programme Manager Moritz Konradi introduced the draft version of the topical recommendations. The lively debate focused on three major topics: Firstly, the participants stressed the need for improved disaggregated statistical data on different phenomena of discriminatory violence. The current lack of such data oftentimes hampers the development of effective prevention strategies and can lead to perceiving discriminatory violence as a marginal issue. Secondly, the participants stated that local authorities can provide important support to the groups affected by discriminatory violence, and many municipalities have already established specialised services and appointed officers who serve as contact points for these local communities. Thirdly, the importance of cooperation with civil society organisations was highlighted, as common efforts and coordination in prevention networks promise the best success in countering phenomena of intolerance and related forms of violence and crime.
The outcomes of the debate are currently being integrated in the draft of the Manifesto of Barcelona and Catalonia. Further debates are planned in Barcelona and Kraków (Poland), in November.